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Real Estate Market Eyes Youth Sports Facilities as Anchor For New Mixed-Use Developments Reports Sports Facilities Companies

Industry Leading Firm Reports Marked Increase in New Developments Nationwide

(PRUnderground) May 15th, 2024

From rural Illinois to North Las Vegas, a trend has emerged among savvy real estate developers who are partnering with municipal leaders to capitalize on the continued ‘boom’ of the youth travel sports marketplace. The trend? Look beyond the walls or fields of a youth sports mega-plex to the surrounding real estate and create a genuine travel destination complete with new restaurants, retail shopping experiences, and on-site hotels. The Sports Facilities Companies (SFC), an industry-leading firm that plans and operates sports mega-plexes, community recreation centers, and live entertainment venues, reports that 60% of their projects in development have mixed-use real estate development components.

“We’re witnessing a transformation in the funding mechanisms and public-private partnerships leveraged to create these youth travel sports destination developments,” said Jason Clement, SEO and Founder of SFC. “In the best instances, municipalities participate in the planning of the youth sports asset and maintain control of the operation, often through specialty third-party operators like SFC, while the developer focuses on leasing the property outparcels and creating a family-friendly, walkable destination.”

Clement’s firm, which currently operates 50+ sports, recreation, and event venues across the country, has more than 20 years of dedicated industry experience planning and developing new properties. SFC is leading the design and operation of AdventHealth Sports Park at Bluhawk, a massive indoor sports and entertainment complex featuring eight basketball courts, an NHL-sized ice rink, sports training center, bowling, laser tag, and more. Nestled in Bluhawk, Overland Park’s number-one mixed-use development, the 260,000 square-foot phase one is slated to open this fall. Bluhawk is the vision of the Price Brothers Management Company, led by Vice President of Development, Bart Lowen.

In rural Illinois, the city of Mattoon has partnered with Rural King to develop a $66 million indoor and outdoor sports complex that will serve as the anchor for the Shops at Emerald Acres, which are co-located on the 150-acre site.  The sports complex, slated to open late 2024, will be a driver for approximately 580,000 visitors and generate more than $23.8 million in direct economic impact annually.

“At Rural King, we’ve been headquartered in Mattoon since our founding in 1960. As we considered expanding the retail options in our city, we needed an anchor for the development that would drive a significant amount of traffic,” said Blake Pierce, President of RK Real Estate & Development. “What makes youth sports such a great fit is that it’s not only a proven generator for economic activity, but it is also a huge asset to the quality of life of local residents.”

“Projects like Emerald Acres Sports Connection and AdventHealth Sports Park are industry-leading examples of the power of youth travel sports,” said Jake Whittaker, Senior Vice President of Development for SFC. “When cities and real estate developers partner to create a sports and events destination, they create a win-win-win situation. It’s a win for the developer who has public participation in their project, a win for the city who receives the benefits of new hotels, retail, and restaurants, and a win for kids and families who have improved access to sport and entertainment opportunities.”

Located in Hoover, AL, the Hoover Met Complex is a sports mega-plex that is a nationally-recognized youth travel sports destination that hosts premier events like the SEC baseball tournament, KultureCity Kulture Ball, major political rallies, and the indoor national pickleball championships. Last year alone, it produced over $90 million in direct economic impact for the city. Adjacent to the complex, Stadium Trace Village, a mixed-use development by Broad Metro Commercial Real Estate, has grown into an award-winning walkable urban destination. The Broad Metro Developer has recently announced the groundbreaking of a 2.4-acre amphitheater and entertainment area.

The youth and amateur sports tourism industry grew by an impressive 11% to reach $52.2 billion in 2023 (Sports ETA 2023) and is predicted to reach $77.5 billion by 2026 (Wintergreen Research). Over the last decade, forward-thinking local government leaders in cities like Albertville, AL, Elizabethtown, KY, Gatlinburg, TN, and Rocky Mount, NC were early adopters in the development of youth travel sports facilities and have proven the economic development power associated with youth sports tourism. Now, cities and real estate developers in Springfield, IL, North Las Vegas, NV, Northport, AL, Pinellas Park, FL are taking the opportunity of youth travel sports one step further and have announced plans or broken ground on mixed-use developments that not only include an indoor or outdoor travel sports facility, but hotels, retail, and/or restaurants on-site as well.

“The growth we’ve witnessed in the industry in the last few years is unparalleled,” said John David, President of the Sports Events & Travel Association (Sports ETA). “Our membership with destination marketing organizations, industry partners, and event owners has never been stronger – we had 14% growth in the attendance of our annual Symposium. These organizations are invested in the future of youth and amateur sports tourism and they not only want great sports facilities, but on-site hotels, restaurants, and retail options for their guests as well.”

SFC is a highly sought-after advisor and operating partner to municipalities and real estate developers. The firm’s portfolio of managed properties produces over $500 million in direct economic impact annually from 25 million guest visitors.

To learn more about the Sports Facilities Companies’ services, please see and their portfolio of industry-leading properties at

About The Sports Facilities Companies

The Sports Facilities Companies (SFC) are the Nation’s leading resources for the management and development of sports, recreation, wellness, and events facilities. As a turn-key solution for community leaders and developers alike, SFC services span the gamut of sports and recreation needs from sports tourism & recreation master planning, program planning, and feasibility through professional facility management services. Our 50+ managed venues and 2500+ team members, represented by the SF Network, welcome more than 25 million guest visits and produce over $500 million in economic impact each year. To learn more, please visit and

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