The long-awaited Gary Sheffield Sports Village is back at square one after an internal dispute between the developers ruptured the partnership.
The Gary Sheffield Sports Village is not going to come to fruition, or at the very least not for quite some time.
City Manager Bill McDaniel terminated the development agreement between the City of Plant City and GCJ Sports, LLC on Jan. 3 after James Talton, partner of GCJ Sports, was unable to present adequate proof of proper funding for the project. Funding, however, is the least of Talton’s worries.
“We are rewriting the RFP and we are going to re-release it,” McDaniel said. “There was some drama. It was like Midtown again. You had partners and those partners had a split and one of them (Talton) was left trying to move forward. Now the other one has gone off on his own. Now we’re gong to rerelease the RFP and the other one, who happens to be Gary Sheffield, is going to come back and probably propose on that RFP.”
In October of 2018 commissioners approved a development agreement with GCJ Sports, LLC, which said the developer had to have proof of adequate funding for the hefty project.
The original plan was to have at least $50 million worth of development in five years. Talton told commissioners they planned to exceed that and were aiming to bring anywhere from $100 million and $120 million to the location in the first phase of development.
The concept for Sports Village had items like a minimum of eight ball fields, training and rehabilitation facilities, dormitories, a field house, a hotel and retail and dining locations all on the approximately 133 acres. The city went as far as to consider giving them the land if they could prove they would complete the proposed development.
The city paid off the current stadium one year early, saving approximately $20,787, so the facility was completely debt-free.
The letter the city received on Dec. 18 from Neil Treitman, a mortgage broker, said they were “in the process of arranging debt and equity financing.” McDaniel told Talton in the termination letter that endeavoring to obtain financing without any solid indication of who the lender would be violated the requirements of the development agreement.
Using the baseball analogy favored by McDaniel during the development agreement, the game between the city and GCJ Sports has been canceled and in-fighting on the team has caused it to split. The new RFP will be released this week and McDaniel said though it will be open to everyone, he doesn’t expect to receive submissions from anyone but Talton and Sheffield.
If both do re-submit there could be a fight to the playoffs as both new teams duke it out to have the opportunity to play ball with Plant City once again. After all, the trophy is a massive win for either group.