$35 Million Sports Complex to be Built in Eastern St. Tammany Parish if Voters Say Yes in December

P2E leaders Brent Stevens and Jonathan Swain present a $100,000 check for the development of the sports complex master plan.

ST. TAMMANY PARISH, La. — For years Coquille in Covington and Pelican Park in Mandeville have been fixtures of Northshore life. They are often the first exposure young athletes get to sports like football, soccer, and baseball. Many of these early exposures will develop into lifelong interests that they will then pass along to their own children. In many ways, a youth sports park is the nucleus around which a community forms.

However, for years, one of the Northshore’s largest cities has yet to develop their own facility. Slidell has been trying to secure funding for a Pelican Park-style space for decades, but questions about increased taxes and longterm operating costs have always bogged down discussions.

Most recently, Sean Burkes and Mike Gambrell tried to secure funding for Slidell’s Recreation District 16, but despite their best efforts, the park did not become a reality.

On December 11, St. Tammany voters will have the opportunity to vote YES and fully fund a $35 million sports complex without raising taxes. Further, a percentage of the future revenue generated by Camellia Bay is dedicated to funding the ongoing maintenance and operations of the new sports complex.

The team at Camellia Bay listened to community leaders when they embarked on the project. When the developers began discussions with local representatives, it was clear that a priority for the region was securing funding for a sports complex.

After hearing of the tremendous need in the community and desires for the full amount to be made available all at once, Camellia Bay agreed to make available the full $35 million upon groundbreaking of the resort. The developers already advanced $100,000 to begin the planning of the sports complex.

The Duplantis Design Group of Covington, partnered with the Sports Facilities Company have already been engaged for the project and tasked with a preliminary development plan and market analysis.

The initial funds and the future $35 million will go to East St. Tammany Sports Complex Fund. The sports complex development is being overseen by a steering community full of local advisors and experts to make sure this sports complex is done right. It also includes Mike Gambrell and Sean Burkes who tried so hard to secure funding for this project five years ago.

The full list of advisors for sports complex steering committee is listed below:

  • Donna O’ Daniels
  • Jimmy Strickland
  • Shawn Williams
  • Bruce Javery 
  • Jake Airey
  • Mike Gambrell
  • Noble Young 
  • Sam Caruso
  • Sean Burkes

Chris Masingill, CEO of the St. Tammany Corporation, understands the value of youth sports to a community, but he also isn’t letting an opportunity for real economic development in Slidell go to waste. The plan is to develop something that is not only self-sufficient but that adds value.

Masingill states, “The East St. Tammany Sports Complex has incredible potential to be a legacy economic development project and will leave a lasting positive economic impact on our parish and region. This state-of-the-art sports complex will serve our residents and draw in visitors and families from across the Gulf South. Youth Sports tourism is an $8 billion industry nationally, with the average family spending $930 per travel sports event. This development will be well-positioned to capture a share of that market right here in St. Tammany Parish.”

All across the state, communities are benefiting from sports tourism as children travel the country with their families. According to The Acadiana Advocate (Oct. 7), just one volleyball tournament in Lafayette is expected to bring in 4,463 overnight guests for the three-day event in early November, generating an estimated $3.1 million plus $107,873 in local taxes and making the direct economic impact from the event $1.9 million.

The simple truth is that our communities are better places when kids have a place to play. Slidell families deserve somewhere for parents, siblings and friends can watch the children they love play the sports they love while learning lessons they will carry into adulthood. Baseball diamonds, soccer pitches, basketball courts and football fields make a community more not less, and all St. Tammany has to do is vote yes.