Forsyth County Commissioners heard about a proposed private sports project during the latest work session.
Winners Circle Park, which Chairman Alfred John calls “Project Homerun,” is a private sports project on about 60 acres off Peachtree Parkway and Brookwood and Caney roads that would include nine baseball fields, an indoor recreation facility, pickleball courts, two restaurants and commercial and retail space.
At a work session on Tuesday, June 21, commissioners heard from a team of developers, professional athletes and creatives behind the project.
Sean Courtney, an attorney representing the project, said the indoor recreation facility could have events for basketball, cheerleading, gymnastics or pickleball.
He also introduced representatives of the project which included Todd Greene, a former Major League Baseball catcher.
Other members of the advisory board include former Atlanta Braves Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher and 1995 World Series MVP Tom Glavine, former NBA player Dominique Wilkins, current NBA player Seth Curry and multiple professional pickleball players.
“Everyone [on the advisory board is] very excited; they’re going to be hands-on [for] this project, too,” said Rick Nielsen, representative of the project. “They’re not just going to be names that are just linked to a project, they’re also going to be names that are giving their personal input to make sure this facility’s the best it can be providing camps, training to the coaches and anything else we can really help provide to the community.”
Nielsen said the athletes on the board, which could feature other current and former Atlanta Braves players, would have a “personal touch,” providing Forsyth County youth with the best venue for tournaments and practices.
During the discussion, District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills asked about the number of parking spaces at the venue.
As someone whose children were involved in sports, she said she has seen her fair share of “nightmare” parking situations.
Michael Grade, who has been involved in youth baseball in administration and a coach since the late 1980s, said there would be “more than enough parking to serve us even on the busiest of days,” saying the venue was planned for “just under” 1,500 parking spaces.
“If people get upset before they even get in, that’s a big problem,” Grade said. “Then the food tastes, bad the umpires are worse than ever [and] the fields look bad. So, we’ve got to make sure that people are happy, that parking is convenient, that it’s paved parking and that it’s easy to get in and out.”
District 5’s Laura Semanson said she was excited about the project.
“I think it’s going to be a great addition to augment what our [parks and recreation department] has been doing,” Semanson said. “For baseball, it’s been so popular here, and this will help take a lot of pressure off of our local parks as well as be an enormous contributor to our economic development efforts and our tax digest.”
She also wondered about the balance of utilization of the venue between sports in a year, asking what percentage of use would be for tournaments versus camps and local events.
Grade said weekends would be primarily reserved for tournaments. However, he said it was equally important that time was set aside during the year for local teams to use the venue for camps, clinics, and practices and “that this be a project for the community.”
He also said he and his team were open to ideas from commissioners and county residents to be a “community partner” in this project.
During discussion, John made mention that the venue would also host E-sports, utilizing the indoor facility for players to compete and practice.
Mills asked if cricket, soccer and lacrosse players could utilize the venue. Grade said players could use the fields for practice, but the complex would likely not have fields big enough to host tournaments for those sports.
After hearing the plans and discussion with developers, commissioners approved county staff to look at the project’s application and determine the best possible zoning for the property.
This project will return before the board later for further consideration with an appropriate rezoning request.
Hotel on Ronald Reagan Boulevard
Commissioners also approved county staff to begin the public hearing process for a conditional-use permit for the operation of a hotel with around-the-clock business hours on over 30 acres off Ronald Reagan Boulevard across from the Collection at Forsyth.
Courtney, who represents the project, said the applicant originally filed for a conditional-use permit for an “extended-stay hotel,” and John said that condition was a “hard no” for him.
Courtney said the applicant wanted to amend the condition to remove “extended-stay,” applying for a conditional-use permit for a “regular hotel.”
Director of Planning and Community Development Tom Brown said the board could approve the conditional-use permit to move forward to the public hearing process without the extended-stay request so the applicant wouldn’t have to reapply for a permit.
Commissioners approved to county initiate the conditional-use permit with the condition that the planning commission and Board of Commissioners would reject the extended-stay request.