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Wednesday, Jun 20, 2018
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One group bids on HCC amateur athletics complex

TAMPA — A local business group that includes the Westshore Alliance and Tampa investment manager Bob Gries is the only bidder vying to build a proposed amateur athletics complex at Hillsborough Community College’s Dale Mabry campus.

The complex’s backers say it would serve two purposes, giving traveling basketball and volleyball teams somewhere to hold their tournaments while also helping to fill the Westshore district’s many hotels on slow weekends.

College spokeswoman Ashley Carl said several groups have approached HCC about building a youth sports complex over the years. That includes Gries, a local youth sports booster who runs a Tampa investment firm. The college moved ahead in December by inviting would-be developers to submit proposals for such a facility on nine acres housing HCC’s large community tennis complex. Any developer would have rebuild the HCC tennis complex on land elsewhere on the campus.

On Friday, the school released bid documents showing just one bidder, the Westshore Alliance. a business group representing Tampa’s Westshore district. The college didn’t release details of the group’s proposal, citing a statute that closes bid documents for a period of time.

Westshore Alliance Executive Director Ron Rotella said his group and the Hillsborough County Hotel & Motel Association likely would create a new not-for-profit corporation to own the facility. The Tampa Sports Authority, which operates Raymond James Stadium, likely would run the complex.

And, Gries has pledged to make a significant financial contribution to the project and pledged to raise its $25 million start-up cost, Rotella said.

Last week, Gries told the Tribune the project likely would require some government funding.

The sports complex has been a longtime pursuit for Gries, whose high school-age daughter is an avid volleyball player. He’s been frustrated at the Tampa Bay area’s lack of indoor athletic complexes big enough to host major amateur tournaments. The only facility big enough to do that now is the Tampa Convention Center, but he said the community really needs a dedicated sports facility for basketball, volleyball, wrestling and cheerleading teams.

He told the Tribune last week that the project wouldn’t benefit him or his daughter personally, because she will have graduated by the time it’s built.

Coincidentally, a separate group is proposing another indoor sports facility at the Florida State Fairgrounds as part of a major proposed redevelopment project there.

Carl, the HCC spokeswoman, said the college can move forward with negotiations even though it attracted only one bidder. For now, plans call for the college to award a contract for the project in late April.

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