Matanuska-Susitna Borough

Assembly offers economic incentives to sports

Mat-Su | Patty Sullivan | Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Patty Sullivan

Oct. 22, 2007Public Affairs Director

Assembly offers economic incentives to sports center

PALMER A sports center, designed specifically to support youth sports leagues, is the first business to receive economic development incentives from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

The Double B, LLC company is building an $8.3 million project near four high schools. A part, 6,000 square feet, of the 60,000 square foot building will operate as a commercial health club to help subsidize the 54,000 square feet of courts and track that will be rented at below market value. The center will provide rent-free office space for non-profit sports leagues. The project will also create at least 15 full time jobs with an average annual salary of $34,296.

Co-owner of Double B, Scott Johannes, recently told the Borough Assembly that the investment grew from a carpool ride five years ago with another coach. The teams were traveling to Anchorage in order for Wasilla to play Colony, he said. They drove 40 minutes rather than 15 because of a shortage of court space here in the MAT-SU. This center, geared toward helping sports non-profits, is the first project of its kind in the Borough.

Borough Mayor Curt Menard said he is 100 percent behind the idea. Menard participated in the recent Assembly meeting by telephone while recuperating from a stem cell transplant. Its a wonderful addition to the Valley. Having been involved in sports with my children growing up and now with grandchildren, I do see that there always seems to be competition for space, Menard said.

The indoor sports facility gives children and teens a place to go. State non-profits recently determined that providing activities for youth is the best way to discourage drug and alcohol use. Methamphetamine addiction has been a community concern here.

We are excited that the economic development incentives program could be used, not only for job creation but also to help kids have access to below market value, sports facilities, said Dave Hanson, economic development director for the Borough.

Through the economic development incentives program, the sports center will receive a partial exemption of property taxes over three years. The first year, 50 percent exemption; the second year 25 percent exemption; the third year a 10 percent exemption. Over the period, the exemptions will provide about $85,000 in reduced taxes. The Borough program offers local support, a commitment needed for the project to be eligible for an $800,000 grant from the Rasmussen Foundation and a $550,000 grant from the MAT-SU Health Foundation.

Johannes also said a great deal of his company's money and a bank loan are also funding the project. The sports center bears the AT&T name as well because selling the naming rights raised additional revenue, he said. The communications company will demonstrate its latest technology in a space inside. The one here will be the fourth in the country, after Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago, he said.

The sports center is under construction off the Palmer-Wasilla Highway and Double B Road and is expected to open in Jan. 2008.

For more information call Economic Development Director Dave Hanson at (907) 745-4801.