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Lake City News

Lake City Contributes $25,000 to County Run Southside Sports Complex

The TDC's Nick Patel asks the City for $25,000.

LAKE CITY, FL – On January 22, 2008, after years of neglect and lost interest, Lake City gave the City's Southside Recreational Complex to Columbia County. Since that time, the County has spent millions upgrading the facility and has turned it into one of the premier tournament centers in Florida and the Southeast. Last night, Nick Patel and Harvey Campbell of the TDC appeared before the City Council and asked the City to contribute $25,000 to the facility. He said, "We are here to extend our hand to forge a partnership with the City."

Mr. Patel told the Council that the TDC (Tourist Development Council) and the County, working together, transformed the complex. "Today, we conduct approx 34 tournaments a year with an average participation of 40 teams. This is constantly growing. We are in the process of hiring a dedicated manager to market and promote this sport facility and make it a huge demand generator for our economy."

The TDC's Patel and Harvey Campbell await the City's decision.

One of the advantages of the Southside Sports Complex is the availability of hundreds of hotel rooms within 2 miles of the complex. Mr. Patel owns many of those rooms.

Mr. Patel told the Council, "Hotel industry is extremely vital to the local economy, direct economic impact based on 2013 numbers is 50 million dollars."

He continued, "The total property value of the hotel industry located in the City and larger Columbia County is valued at 46 million dollars, generating close to a million dollars in property taxes a year. In total, the industry generates $3,200,000 in direct tax contribution to the local governments. We have allocated $400,000 in our TDC budget to promote sports tourism, which includes conducting tournaments.

Mr. Patel asked the City to contribute $25,000 dollars to the complex. "Your contribution is significant to show support to our long term vision of creating the best youth sport complex, which has far reaching benefits to the residents and business of Lake City. We are investing in our future. Your investment is very nominal, considering the County and TDC has forged a partnership worth 2.9 million dollars. The County has become a valuable partner and we would welcome the City to join in this extremely important partnership."

After a couple of questions from Council members Ward and Moses, the City voted to contribute $25,000 to the complex, although it was not clear for what the money was to be used.

City Manager Wendell Johnson explained that the money was not budgeted and would come out of the City's general fund, or out of the pockets of all City residents.

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