Plan to transform the 1.5 million square foot St. Louis Outlet Mall into a $63 million youth sports and resort complex called POWERplex is close to becoming a reality. The closing date for all contracts to be signed is August 30. Beginning in September, walls inside the mall will start coming down to create open space for six sports venues, according to Big Sports Properties’ managing partner Dan Buck in his report given at a POWERplex news conference yesterday. Over 150 people attended the event with major print and electronic media coverage.
“It’s been a long journey with many barriers that have been overcome, said Dan Buck. “Thanks to incredible public and community support, corporate sponsorships and numerous visionary partners, this remarkable campus is finally going to happen.” On June
19, Hazelwood City Council approved the final terms and settlement agreements between the property owner and Big Sports Properties, the project’s lead developer, and the City that paved the way for this 160+-acre youth sports tourism destination to be created.
The travelling youth sports team industry is the fastest growing segment in the American tourism and destination sector. POWERplex estimates it will serve over 2.9 million visitors annually and provide 800 full-time jobs. Developers for POWERplex also believe the facility will be able to host more than 180 major sports tournaments and special events per year. The public-private partnership will include 6 major sports venues, 13 restaurants, 5 baseball/softball field, hotels and more than a dozen sports-themed retail stores.
The development, in partnership with Cissell Mueller Company, LLC, commercial real estate brokers, is negotiating with hoteliers for 3 of the 6 hotels they plan to add to the sports complex with one featuring a convention center. “An independent expert in youth sports tourism, estimates POWERplex will generate up to 270,000 hotel room bookings per year, said Duane Mueller, partner of Cissell Mueller. “We’re getting a lot of interest from hoteliers who understand this booming sports tourism industry, a key factor being just 8 minutes from Lambert International Airport and that flat, shovel-ready lots located on such a dynamic, fun and entertainment-driven campus,” Mueller added. The master plan also calls for an indoor/outdoor water park resort at the main entrance on 18.6 acres by 2022.
Among the top competitive sports being offered at POWERplex are baseball, softball, volleyball, beach volleyball, pickleball, basketball, 7-on-7 football, ice hockey, dance and cheerleading, lacrosse, field hockey, ultimate Frisbee and other major sports events. Many of the venues will open by February 2020 with substantial completion of all the sports amenities by fall 2020.
During the media event, Buck announced that St. Louis native and NBA All-Star Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards, a Chaminade graduate, has joined as a partner of the Big Sports Properties’ investment group. The headquarters of his basketball training program, Bradley Beal Elite Basketball Club, will call POWERplex home. According to Beal, “This is something that doesn’t just transform sports in our region. This place will change lives and impact kids for decades to come. I’ve never been more excited to make a dream become a reality.”
While most of the mall structure will remain intact, deconstruction of the walls and low celings is expected to begin in September. POWERplex also plans to reopen existing amenities, including Rusty Wallace’s go-kart and bumper boats facility (3 race tracks), and indoor/outdoor mini putt-putt golf courses. Other entertainment venues being added include laser tag, a rock-climbing wall, a ropes course, a ninja course, and a trampoline park.
These amenities will open on a rolling basis, beginning with the re-opening of the 18-screen movie theater by Thanksgiving. M-4/VIP Theaters has agreed to manage the cineplex, offering ticket prices as low as $6.99 per person. In addition, Big Sports Properties announced these community and corporate partners who are committed to be tenants, sports users and venue sponsors: Heartland Coca-Cola, Ameren Missouri, BJC/Christian Hospital, St. Louis Cardinals, City of Hazelwood, Convention & Visitors’ Commission Explore St. Louis, and St. Louis County Council. Other supporters include Integrity Fitness, Old Towne Gringo’s, Jimmy John’s, Culver’s, Wetzel’s Pretzels and A & W Root Beer.
This campus will also feature the largest indoor dome in America, spanning 750′ x 300′ (5.2 acres) and will soar 120′ high. “It will be the biggest air supported structure we’ve ever built,” said Scott Biason the vice-president of St. Louis-based Arizon, the manufacturer of this air structure. “It’s only appropriate that our biggest dome ever is here in our hometown.”
Three existing tenants, Cabela’s, Ice Zone and Hope Church, will remain operational as part of POWERplex. (Hope Church, which has nearly 9 years left on its lease, is anticipated to stay, providing a good resource for Christian families looking for a Sunday service to attend between tournament games.)
Lloyd Ney, co-owner and operator of Ice Zone since the facility opened 15 years ago had this to say about POWERplex. “This is like scoring a huge goal in overtime. What the City of Hazelwood and Big Sports Properties have achieved in a very short time frame for all the remaining land owners is nothing short of miraculous. We were facing a disaster scenario where we would not be able to fulfill our mission of growing youth ice sports and now we get to be a part of a thriving, new sports destination campus. It’s all very exciting,” said Ney.
According to Hazelwood City Manager Matthew Zimmerman, “Nothing like this has ever been built in America. POWERplex is going to have everything here in one campus, because it’s already built — it’s ready to go. We think this is going to be wildly successful! We’re very enthused about welcoming Dan Buck and Big Sports Properties to the City of Hazelwood.”