Starkville aldermen are considering a memorandum of understanding to negotiate a contract with a development company for the new sports facility at Cornerstone Park.
Representatives from facilities management agency Sports Facilities Management delivered a presentation Friday at the aldermen’s work session on their company’s goals and vision for a sportsplex in Starkville. Founding partner and CEO Jason Clement said if contracted, the company will partner with the city to create the facility’s plans.
“The city will define for us what the definition of success is, what the vision and the standards look like,” Clement said. “We will then go put that strategic plan together in the form of a budget.”
The city has been discussing the creation of a new sports facility for several years and formed a master plan for the complex in 2019. Cornerstone Park, which the city will build southwest of the intersection of Highways 12 and 25 in West Starkville, will be a baseball and softball-focused recreation facility with an emphasis on hosting tournaments.
Starkville residents voted and approved a 1-percent tax increase to the city’s food and beverage and hotel taxes to fund the complex in 2019. The estimated cost of the facility will be approximately $20 million.
The board will vote on contract negotiations Tuesday for its second regular meeting of the month.
SFM manages a variety of assets from sports complexes to recreational vehicles, parks and amphitheaters. The company opens six to eight complexes every year and, according to SFM’s website, is “passionate about increasing access to sport for all.”
Clement said he believes his company has the experience and expertise to give Starkville a facility that will best fit the needs of the city.
“One thing that’s really important to us is that no community is alike and Starkville is certainly unique — there are similarities to other communities that we work with — but it’s really important for us to understand what the community’s goal is here,” Clement said. “… We have experience in all different types of operations that we can pull whatever levers we need to to make sure that we achieve the goals that you have for this complex.”
Ward 4 Alderman Jason Walker said he believed SFM had knowledge on the subject matter and was appreciative of the company’s interest in Starkville.
“I think certainly the level of service and the experience is something,” Walker said. “I think we’ve got to work through the money piece of it and what that looks like. I think importantly, or more importantly, is the collaboration aspect between the parks and recreation department.”
In answer to a question from Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn, SFM National Director of Business Development Jim Arnold said the company understands the importance of creating a diverse team and
expects the leaders and employees of the complex to be “pillars of the community.” He said SFM will hire not only candidates that will be the best fit for the park but also the city of Starkville.
Clement said the company plans to partner with Starkville’s Parks and Recreation Department to ensure the complex will amount to the city and residents’ expectations.
“We know how to operate sustainably,” Clement said. “We know how to do it efficiently and effectively and derive the best experience possible and we have a lot of experience in partnering with communities, existing parks and rec to make sure that we’re collaborating well.”