A Citizen's Committee, headed by local businessmen Stacey Satterwhite and Rich Lillard, will be presenting a concept for the Red Robertson Stadium/Event Center Project at NEO as part of the Miami City Council meeting Monday night at the Coleman Theatre starting at 6:15 p.m.
“It has seismic and wind issues, the stadium is getting ready to get condemned. If we don't do something we're not going to have a stadium. The discussion has to start,” Satterwhite said.
The proposed concept is to build an event center and stadium that could be used for multiple purposes by the community and in turn bring more revenue into the city.
“There is not an action item on the agenda for it, the item is for presentation of the concept so that the issue is out there disclosed and discussed,” Miami's City Manager Jeff Bishop said.
Satterwhite said the idea began when a group of residents began talking about and trying to figure out what alternatives are available to deal with the problem of the aging and inadequate stadium.
According to Satterwhite the upgraded event center would provide several opportunities for Miami and the area:
Provide the youth in Miami an opportunity to conduct youth sports championships, band competitions and various school events.
Serve as a unique asset that will help drive economic activity for local and area businesses.
Help Miami High School and Miami Middle School athletics and co-curricular activities.
Benefit NEO A&M by bringing recruitment advantages to NEO football, soccer and band programs.
Support the City of Miami's interest in becoming a regional sports event destination.
Provide our community with a positive, progressive project designed to instill greater sense of pride and demand higher expectations from our young people.
The proposal is for $9.5 million concept, that Satterwhite stresses is a working design and subject to change as other input is obtained and the project evolves.
The plan currently includes; new grandstands on the West side of the field, new concessions and restrooms, new dedicated locker rooms, a Hall of Fame walk, a new press box, and the capability for other sports such as soccer to be played on the field.
He said he has been visiting with Miami business owners and residents, and Satterwhite said,“I did not talk to any person in this community that did not like this concept. We have a huge group of people who like the concept, now let's figure out how to get it done.”
To date the Citizen's Committee has pledged full support for the project by fundraising, marketing and making public presentations for the project.
The potential economic impact for the area is unclear at this time but the group has commissioned a study to help weigh and predict the economic impact for the project and has consulted professional architects, engineers, construction management, flood plain management, seating and turf experts for analysis.
Satterwhite said he would make the results of this study available as soon as it has been completed.
“It is gong to make a positive economic impact on this community,” he said.
Using Durant, Ok. as a comparable city, Satterwhite cites statistics of economic growth after a similar event center was built there of 47 percent over a 10 year period and the availability of increased grant funding for the community.
“There's different methods of funding this, most of the communities we have looked at have used sales taxes to fund a project like this for revenue producing projects,” Satterwhite said.
Other options being considered for funding the project are private donation and property taxes.
Satterwhite said property taxes are regulated and limited in scope and flexibility of expenditure and use and he doesn't believe is the right option for this project.
Answering oppositional concern for a raise in city sales tax as an option for funding the project Satterwhite said, “How are we going to fund it ? I don't know....”
“We want the public to decide on the funding mechanism, but the City is not going to champion the project simply because we have a full plate right now,” Bishop said, “ We are merely a vehicle to this process.”
He said the event center is one way to enhance a quality of life standard for are residents and something that those wanting to relocate their families and businesses look for in a community.
“It's not going to benefit only Miami kids, it could benefit Ottawa County kids,” Satterwhite said, giving them the opportunity to play in a large facility.
He addressed concerns about relocating the facility at the present site, Satterwhite said that everything he will be presenting in the concept's plan meets flood plain standards, ADA standards, and cited the infrastructure at NEO as beneficial to the project's usability.
The facility could be used for other sports such as soccer, for concerts, band competitions, and other events.
“All I ask that everybody come out and listen to the concept, it may not look anything like this when we get done. If we want better things for our young people, we've got to invest in our young people. we've got to invest in our community, but we have got to do it. Together as a community have to do this,” Satterwhite said.