FLORENCE — Grinder Sports Group’s plans in Florence are essentially unaffected by another major sports complex coming to southeast Mesa, a top official said Tuesday.
“(We) could not be more excited about what we’re bringing to Pinal County and the town of Florence,” Lyndon Estill, founder and chief operations officer, told PinalCentral by phone Tuesday afternoon.
Estill said he and his associates were expecting the announcement of Legacy Sports Park in Mesa. Legacy, a privately-owned 320-acre multi-use family sports and entertainment complex, will be built next to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport and will open to the public in January 2022, organizers announced.
“We’ve known about things they’ve been doing for years, and we wish them all the luck in the world,” Estill said.
Is there room for two major sports complexes and associated amenities — each over 300 acres — just 30 miles apart?
“Absolutely,” Estill said. “The amateur sports market, as well as the various amenities that are also part of what we’re doing, there’s more than enough market share for both projects to be successful and viable. There’s a vast array of various disciplines in sports, fields and venues we’re bringing to the table. I don’t see a situation where there would be conflict (between) what they’re offering and what we’re offering.
“Because ultimately, all the projects within this field, the aim is to increase and better the amateur sports market. It’s a lot bigger industry than any one of us can take on by ourselves.”
As recently as Aug. 20, Estill told the Florence Planning and Zoning Commission the closest similar development would be ESPN Wide World of Sports near Orlando, Florida. But just over a week later, Legacy was announced.
Estill said Tuesday that the answer he gave on Aug. 20 is still the correct one.
“In no way was it a knock on Legacy,” he said. “When you look at the multitude of offerings from the Wide World of Sports ... I would still say that is the closest comparison (to Grinder’s plan) that we can make.”
The Florence Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled to hold another public hearing Thursday on Grinder’s request for a Major General Plan Amendment. Grinder is planning a 360-acre residential, commercial, and recreational mixed-use development on North Felix Road, just beyond the current town limits. Grinder’s plans include annexation into the town limits.
Without mentioning Legacy directly, Grinder said in press release Tuesday that it continues to be excited about its relationship with Florence and Pinal County, and its investors and partners are “more invigorated than ever, ready to provide these needed amenities to the community.”
The release also portrayed interest from the Florence Unified School District in using the complex for educational opportunities.
“Grinder understands the planned sports complex is the anchor of the development, but recognizes the vast array of needs by the community and is committed to bring additional amenities to the project that the entire community can enjoy,” the release said. “Restaurants, retail, and leisure activities are just some of the amenities being brought to the total scope of the development in response to many of the concerns that have been brought to light in many conversations with the town of Florence and Pinal County.”