FLORENCE — A major sports training complex in the northern town limits with fields, courts, lodging, retail stores and family entertainment has been proposed.

Grinder Sports Group Inc.’s 350-acre project will require a Major General Plan Amendment and annexation into the town limits. It will be “designed to provide a catalyst and mind-body inspiration motivating athletes to become Olympians and professional athletes,” according to the application to the town.

“This is really exciting; this is something we’ve been working on and talking about for quite some time now, so it’s great to see it brought before us this evening,” Mayor Tara Walter said at Monday’s Town Council meeting.

Grinder Sports Group plans to build “a world-class training and academic educational destination” for aspiring athletes in baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse, basketball, volleyball, tennis, football, pickleball, field hockey and track. There will also be a fully equipped medical and rehabilitation facility for athletes’ short- and long-term needs.

Plans include 30 baseball fields, a baseball stadium with up to 5,000 seats, a softball/youth baseball stadium, 20 collegiate-size soccer and multi-use fields, 12 basketball and volleyball courts, 10 tennis courts, a fitness center and other facilities.

Grinder Sports is also planning housing, a satellite college campus, a charter school campus and family entertainment center with miniature golf, bowling, paintball, movie theater, hotels, restaurants and retail and office space. Grinder expects the direct creation of more than 2,000 jobs.

There are also plans for a state-of-the-art esports venue. According to Wikipedia, esports often refers to organized, multiplayer video game competitions, particularly among professional players, individually or as teams.

The complex will be 350 acres on two sites, both of which are currently farmland. One is bounded by the northwest corner of Felix and Bella Vista roads and the southeast corner of Judd and Cooper roads. The other site is bounded by the northeastern corner of Judd and Felix roads and southeast corner of Magma and Cooper roads.

The property owner, Guardian Angel Holdings, has granted written permission for Grinder Sports to submit the application for a Major General Plan Amendment, town Planner Larry Harmer told the council.

The land is currently classified in the town’s General Plan to be developed as low-medium density residential commercial and office. Grinder is seeking a change to commercial/residential mixed use.

In preparation for this amendment, the town has distributed copies of the application to neighboring jurisdictions and agencies for a 60-day comment period.

The Florence Planning and Zoning Commission will hold public hearings on Aug. 20 and Sept. 3. The Town Council will hold a public hearing and possibly take action on the General Plan amendment on Oct. 5.

The council could vote to approve at that time, but it would not go into effect until the annexation is complete, Harmer told the council. Grinder is currently preparing an application to initiate annexation.

After other approvals, including a development agreement with the town, Grinder hopes to break ground on the project’s first phase later next year, Harmer told PinalCentral.

Grinder intends to partner with the town to bring the infrastructure up to the task, including the complex’s own water supply and wastewater treatment.

“Currently there is insufficient water and waste infrastructure,” Grinder’s General Plan Amendment application notes.

“We will participate with the town of Florence to expand water, waste and energy infrastructure capacity, which will also have the added benefit of serving nearby areas and reducing the strain on their current infrastructure. Grinder is committed to working with the town and county to build out this water, waste and energy infrastructure.”

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Mark Cowling is the county reporter for PinalCentral and covers the town of Florence, San Tan Valley and the surrounding area. He can be reached at mcowling@pinalcentral.com.

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