01PubPenSPORTSOh my! Decisions, decisions, decisions. Hmmmmmm? Where should the City of Fayetteville put the new sports complex? Well, from where I sit, and from what I’m hearing on the street from citizens who are informed about this opportunity, it is pretty much is a “no-brainer.” 

However, what they seem to be more concerned about is the way the City Council is behaving. You would think on major proposals and important City business that coordination, cooperation and communication between Council members would be paramount. Well, not so much. Matter of fact, what seem to be “no-brainer” decisions are seemingly very divisive. This is causing some anxiety among citizens who are following the process. 

Recently, Council member Ted Mohn reached out to me and other members of the media to get our take on the sports complex situation. We appreciated this consideration. In his memo, and in Ted Mohn style, he included a comprehensive evaluation of the suggested Fields/Cedar Creek Road site. He certainly did his homework. It included a graphic of the Rocky Mount Sports Complex for comparison with a dated 4-year financial impact of the complex. He also included a graphic of the Fields/Cedar Creek Road location that included a possible additional 36-acre add on. He also showed nearby commercial development and a sample concept of how the location could house and develop into a viable sports complex. No doubt a lot of time and effort went into this study. However, in my opinion, the Fields/Cedar Creek Road location is not the right location for this project. What follows is basically what I shared with Councilman Mohn in response to his request.

I thanked him for including me in his quest for information and for all the time and research he invested in making sure the Council had all the facts and details and an understanding of the circumstances when considering where to locate the new $9 million sports complex. This is a major project, an important decision and a very big deal for our community. Accordingly, it needs to be thoroughly thought out and examined from all angles, especially from the perspective of the residents and taxpayers of the City of Fayetteville. This is not the time for infighting or petty ward politics.   

I also clarified Up & Coming Weekly’s position and obligation to local residents as a community newspaper. Even though we now have a “hard news” element in our publication provided by Senior Reporter Jeff Thompson, traditionally, Up & Coming Weekly’s format has been derived from local observations and analysis of situations affecting our community from a historic perspective and how these actions or events impact the quality of life here in Fayetteville and Cumberland County. We do this mostly using “first person” insights and opinions. Matter of fact, by the time I’m ready to pen an article, I find myself pretty much putting down in print what the majority of our readers are already thinking. They trust Up & Coming Weekly because we validate their thoughts.

After 21 years, the journalistic track record and reputation of Up & Coming Weekly is pretty stellar. And no one can accuse us of “fake news.” 

With a small community newspaper like Up & Coming Weekly, it’s not how many papers we print each week that is important — it’s who reads it! 

So, with all this being said, I told Mohn in response to his email that “historically speaking” the Cedar Creek/Fields Road area is a poor choice of locations. By historically, I mean Fayetteville and Cumberland County governments have chronic bad habits of justifying the means to accommodate the ends. And, unfortunately,  with very costly results. I could list at least a half-dozen examples, but I did not need to. Mohn knows what they are and so do the taxpayers. The sports complex should not and cannot become another one of these casualties. 

This complex needs to be an economic driver. So, whatever monies the City has to come up with to assure its success should be considered a solid and vetted economic development opportunity. And, as such, it should be a rock-solid investment. I implored Ted to use his time, talent and influence to get the Council to shed the politics and do the type of due diligence that will net us a sound and responsible decision.

I challenged him to query the Council members and the folks he sent memos to about how many times they have visited Exit 49 on Cedar Creek Road in the last year. To Dine? To Shop? To patronize the hotels? I bet zero! 

While he is at it, I suggested he ask how many have ever participated in a travel sports program, and then find and interview people who have been active in traveling sports teams and ask them what they look for in community amenities when considering participating in a tournament or road trip. 

I promise you, we can do more for building Fayetteville’s economy and quality of life while enhancing our community’s brand and image by placing it out by Bragg Boulevard near the All American Freeway and I-295, close to Cross Creek Mall. Really. I’m a big believer in creating a “WOW!” factor when it comes to promotion and marketing – two things Fayetteville doesn’t do very well close to home.  If, when all is said and done, we have to invest another $4 million to make this location happen, you can rest assured the “WOW!” factor will be there already included and thriving, and at no additional cost to
the City.

Everyone is hoping City Council makes the right decision. I personally hope they take the opportunity to finally prove me wrong when I say: “Fayetteville never misses an opportunity, to miss an opportunity.” 

Everyone wants this project to be successful, right?  This being the case, why even risk the chance of a failure by choosing an unproven location? Fayetteville’s leadership should hedge its bet by placing the sports complex near I-295 and Cross Creek Mall. This sound location would justify and protect the taxpayers’ and the City’s investments. After all, when it comes to the Reilly Road location or the location at Exit 49 on Cedar Creek Road, the idea of “Build it and they will come” just hasn’t happened. At least not in the last two decades. Again, why risk the taxpayers’ money? 

Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

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