Discussion regarding the future of sports tourism in Franklin County went on for almost an hour during the Franklin County Fiscal Court regular meeting on Wednesday morning.
The courts dialogue was centered on a request for proposal (RFP) for a feasibility study for Lakeview Park that included options to fund the development and management of a sports complex and convention center as proposed in the park’s master plan.
During the April fiscal court meeting, it was established that the feasibility study would be a necessary step towards establishing a sports commission. The commission would then help determine how to fund the proposed facility. One method proposed is to levy a 3% transient tax on hotel rooms.
The county's park committee advertised the RFPs at the end of April. Four proposals were submitted. Three were from consulting firms and one was from a company that runs convention and sports facilities.
The committee, which consists of Judge-Executive Huston Wells, 3rd District Magistrate Michael Mueller and 4th District Magistrate Scotty Tracy, voted 2-1 to reject all four proposals. Wells voted against rejection.
Mueller said during Wednesday’s meeting that the proposals submitted did not go into enough detail about how it planned to identify revenue streams that will fund the project.
Tracy said that in order for sports tourism to be successful in Franklin County, a sports commission would need to be implemented as it was proposed in the park master plan. That plan is modeled in a similar fashion to one used by a successful facility in McCracken County.
“We don’t have a facility to manage,” Tracy said in reference to the RFP. “So why would we be hiring one right now? It is all about the revenue stream.”
He also then noted that the proposals called for studies that were already conducted while putting together the Lakeview Park Master Plan.
Wells said that the feasibility study was vital to learning how to set up a sports commission.
“We don’t know how to form that,” Wells said of the commission. “To give $300,000 to an organization, to be honest with you, nobody on this court knows, maybe you do, Scotty or Michael, but we don’t know what that is. To raise our hotel taxes, to give that to a group and let them run it, is kind of scary to us.”
There was some disagreement among the members of the committee on the wording of the RFP and whether it was detailed enough for firms to submit satisfactory proposals.
Wells noted that he was perplexed by that notion given that court passed the RFP unanimously in April.
After getting input from Frankfort/Franklin County Tourism Board's Executive Director Robin Antenucci as well as Franklin County Attorney Rick Sparks, Wells and company decided that the RFP needed to be rewritten using input from several different sources.
"We have no other alternative then to sit down and brainstorm with the city, they are part of this. With tourism, they are part of this. With the fiscal court, which will be the park committee. They are a part of this. All of us together, need to write the correct RFP to get what we need."
The date and time for that proposed meeting is still to be determined.