Just a week apart in late September, a pair of groundbreaking sports, recreation and entertainment projects were announced on opposite sides of the Valley.
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In the West Valley, Glendale was chosen as the site for a one-of-a-kind attraction, as Crystal Lagoons released its plans for an island resort and mixed-use facility that would make Glendale an even more appealing entertainment destination for the region.
Just one week before Crystal Lagoons announced its plans, Legacy Sports Park broke ground in the East Valley at the former General Motors Proving Grounds site in southeast Mesa. Legacy Sports Park is a $250 million project that features an indoor arena, outdoor stadium and a multi-purpose building that can hold 16 NBA-sized basketball courts.
Both groundbreaking projects, when completed, will become major economic drivers for the Valley and are projects that have not been seen in Arizona or the Southwest United States before.
“Not only will this be a great example of experiential retail, which is the only area of growth in brick & mortar development over the past 10 years, but this project further cements Westgate as the largest Sports and Entertainment District in Arizona,” Glendale city manager Kevin Phelps said about the Crystal Lagoons project.
“This is going to be a game-changing project for the region,” said Dan Hermann, president of Ziegler, which helped line up the financing to make Legacy Sports Park a reality. “You have major national investors investing in this project. As this project is successful, the money is going to be poured back into the efforts around the Valley around Youth sports. As we got to tell that story to the investors over a six week period, they really warmed up to it and those folks are going to be excited to come out and also see this as it’s built out. Looking forward to those first investor visits.”
Crystal Lagoons is a concept that has been seen around the globe. The main feature of the project will be an 11-acre public access lagoon that will be up to 10-feet deep. Crystal Lagoons has developments across the globe including Dubai, Japan, Brazil and South Korea. These monumental crystalline lagoons surrounded by white sand beaches, can be accessed via ticketed entry. The company was formed in 2007 by Fernando Fischmann, a biochemist who turned into a real estate developer. The company launched its first U.S. water basin, 7.5 acres in size, in Tampa, Florida. Fischmann made a name for himself and his patented water treatment technology when he built the San Alfonso Del Mar lagoon in his native Chile. San Alfonso Del Mar is in Algarrobo, Chile and 1,000 yards long is the largest swimming pool in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Fischmann developed the technology that keeps the water in his company’s lagoons crystal clear and reasonably priced to maintain. Crystal Lagoons has a total of 176 projects in development or negotiation in the United States.
The developer of the project, ECL Glendale, LLC, has reached a development agreement and Government Property Improvement Lease from the City of Glendale. The project is slated to be located at Cardinals Way and the Loop 101, just south of State Farm Stadium and Westgate Entertainment Center. The overall cost to bring the project to life has not been released, but the estimated cost to build the lagoon alone would be $6.5 million.
While the 6.5 acre wholly public accessible lagoon will be the marquee attraction, there will be other reasons to visit the area. Visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy seven islands, each with their own theme, retail spaces. There will be Fly and 4-D theaters, venue space, restaurants, a family entertainment center, amusement rides, office space, 600 plus hotel rooms and more.
Another key attraction with the resort that brings a unique food and beverage experience to visitors is Aerophile’s Aerobar. At 130-feet tall, it will be the highest element in the development and will provide guests a unique view of Glendale’s Sports & Entertainment District and the Valley.
More down to earth, Legacy Sports Park is being developed by Valley-based non-profit Legacy Cares, which was started by Chad Miller, whose father Randy J. Miller had a vision for an all-in-one-place sports facility for his children with they were kids. Now 25 years later, Legacy Sports Park offers more than the Miller’s ever could have imagined.
The 320-acre park, which is being built by Waltz Construction, has plans for 23 soccer fields, eight baseball and eight softball fields, 20 sand volleyball courts and 40 pickle ball courts. All of those sports will have a feature stadium or court, with soccer’s stadium being an 8,000-seat venue that can also host other sports like football, rugby or lacrosse. There is also an outdoor events and festival area that spans 50 acres.
The indoor facilities feature a 6,000-seat multipurpose indoor arena, as well as a multipurpose venue that can hold multiple basketball and volleyball courts for large-scale tournaments. There is also a 75,000 square foot eSports Arena, a 50,000 square foot gymnastics, cheer and dance center, as well as a sports performance center, general fitness center and bars and restaurants.
“One thing you need if you want to be an elite athlete, you have to have elite facilities and this will be an elite facility with the fieldhouse, the fields, the hotel,” said Peter Luukko, chairman of Oak View Group Facilities, which will be the facility management company. “We’re going to bring an entertainment piece to this. That’s where the world is going right now and this is the first of its kind. As much as we may be involved at the highest level of sport, this is the integration, this is where our business is going.”