Paradise Coast Sports Complex continues to make positive revenue gains since Hurricane Ian, General Manager Adrian Moses said during a financial report to the Collier County Board of Commissions on Tuesday.
The East Naples complex near the Collier Boulevard and Interstate 75 interchange reported $1.2 million in revenue from October 2022 through March 2023, which was $500,000 more than its target operating budget for this point in the year. After operating costs, the facility made an $85,000 profit over the six-month period.
“The remarkable success that we’ve had this fiscal year so far, literally, started with the hurricane,” Moses said. “The facility was fully booked in October and, unfortunately, we had to cancel everything in October.”
Instead of seeing the devastation of the storm as a challenge, Moses saw it as an opportunity. Impacts from the storm didn’t keep the sports complex from booking displaced events, including the Peace River Conference youth football championships. The complex also provided recovery sites for first responders.
In November, it hosted a food stamp collection event where 33,000 Florida families redeemed and collected food stamps after the storm.
Clearwater-based Sports Facilities Cos., which took over management of Paradise Sports Complex in 2021, continues to work to prove the county’s multimillion-dollar investment in the project was a good one. The six-month $85,000 profit came despite the company budgeting to host events on 10 fields while operating just five. The facility planned to add five more fields to be finished by November, but delays pushed back the opening of the additional fields to May.
“I lead a very committed and talented team, which is very committed and competitive,” Moses said. “We didn’t see the fact that we had budgeted for 10 but only had five fields as a challenge. We saw it as an opportunity, and we went after every single revenue opportunity there was, and these are the results that have come from that.”
Great Wolf Lodge, which began construction last July adjacent to the sports complex, is anticipated to be a large source of tourism revenue for the county. Commissioner Rick LoCastro sought to ensure conversations between the two companies were initiated to avoid conflict.
“The way that we are presenting our relationship with Great Wolf Lodge so far has been incredibly positive,” Moses said. “Similar with Uline construction that’s next door, we look at each other as neighbors, and we want to be good neighbors. With Great Wolf Lodge, we have begun discussions about where our large events are on the calendar and connecting their business objectives with our business objectives to try and find synergies there.”
Future goals for Paradise Coast Sports Complex include adding internet connectivity across the facility, allowing it to better compete for bookings with new sports facilities in the region and across the country, Moses said.
“Adding the ability for us to have internet at each field so that events can be [livestreamed] is something that’s going to keep us at the forefront, and it’s going to keep us from falling down the pecking order every year a new complex in a nice place [opens],” Moses said. “We need to keep ourselves relevant, and we need to keep ourselves at the top of that tree.”
Implementing internet connectivity across the complex is estimated to cost up to $125,000. The proposed improvement, along with an increased cost of products, led the complex to seek an additional $400,000 for this year’s budget, pushing it to $900,000. Sports Facilities Management’s Jack Adams projected the extra investment will result in an additional $100,000 in profit for the county.
Commissioner William McDaniel asked for a revenue analysis of the Paradise Sports Complex-operated food truck to determine if it’s worth operating over creating contracts with independent vendors.
“There’s a lot of management that goes along [with a food truck]. You’ve got food spoilage, you’ve got storage, you’ve got stuff that’s going on you have to buy for, you must plan for,” he said. “Whereas if we didn’t have our own food truck, we pick up the phone and call five [trucks] to come and serve 6,000 people that are showing up for the weekend, and we wouldn’t have the management and the overhead and the expenses that are attributable to that.”
Moses said private food trucks are still hired for larger events, and the complex-operated food truck is a benefit from a marketing standpoint.
“What I would suggest is the cost of running the food truck, and the ability for us to take it out to community events helps us not only from a revenue standpoint, but it gives us another reason to get out into the community and [allows] the facility to let people, who may or may not know it exists know that we do exist,” Moses said.
Commissioner Dan Kowal agreed it’s time to analyze how cost-effective the food truck is.
“If the food truck isn’t making money, we’re not going to use the people’s money to make money,” he said. “We have to make sure it’s online and making money.”
The board unanimously voted to approve the budget amendment for a $400,000 increase to the complex’s budget.