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Tuesday, Jun 19, 2018
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Porters put hats in the ring again to manage sports complex

WESLEY CHAPEL - Despite spending most of 2012 trying unsuccessfully to negotiate a contract with Pasco County, the Porter family is bidding again for the right to manage a $14 million future sports complex at Wiregrass Ranch. Wiregrass Sports, a company the Porters formed to run the complex last year, was one of two firms that responded last week to the county's request for proposals. The county was forced to start the process over this year after the Porters, who own the ranch property, pulled out of the project and offered to donate the land instead of running the 20-field complex. The county's revenue-sharing demands were a key cog in the breakdown of negotiations with the Porters after County Administrator John Gallagher insisted on a minimum of 7 percent of the park's annual gross revenue. County Purchasing Director Scott Stromer has not released the actual bids, so it's unclear whether the current proposal includes the required revenue-sharing component.
Stromer said he was a little surprised to see a bid package from Wiregrass Sports. "At this point, I don't try to set any expectation," Stromer said. "I'm just happy we got two bids." County commissioners voted 4-1 last November to accept the Porters' charitable donation of 224 acres for the park, but the two sides still have not executed the contract for the donation. J.D. Porter could not be reached for comment. The other bidder is a Tampa-based Blue Marble Strategic, a company headed by real estate consultant James Talton. He has experience in hotel development, including the Epicurean Hotel project affiliated with Bern's Steak House in Tampa. Rather than having a single company bid for the park design and management, Stromer opted to break those aspects into two contracts. The goal is to have the designer and operator work hand in hand with the county to bring the complex to reality. Seven Florida-based firms submitted bids for the park design contract:

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