New sports park gets final approval, construction set to begin within 30 days

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Bay County Commissioners have officially signed off on the construction for the 210 acre sports park and stadium complex in Panama City Beach.

"It's been over two years in the works and now we're finally getting very very close," Bay County Commissioner Philip Griffitts said.

At Tuesday's commission meeting, county officials unanimously approved the financing for the construction cost of the project, which is $23 million of the $37 million total, with Compass Bank through a 15-year loan they expect to pay back early with beach bed taxes.

"The bed tax is 5-percent on any room rental and so 1-percent is pledged to fund this facility. 23 [million] is for the price of the construction itself. That's just the fields, the infrastructure to get it ready. There's some additions that will be the buildings, that sort of thing, that rises the price to 37 [million]," Griffitts said.

Commissioners also voted to contract with Phoenix Construction Services, Inc., a company they've been negotiating with for months.

The park will be located on the east end of Back Beach Road within the Breakfast Point development and is set to have 13 fields.

Eight for soccer, lacrosse, rugby and football, five for baseball and softball.

Those fields and necessary infrastructure will be completed during the first phase of the project.

A potential second phase for the project could include an indoor facility, but will only be considered if funding is approved through TRIUMPH Gulf Coast.

Commissioner Griffitts says he hopes to see bulldozers moving and shovels in the dirt for phase one within the next 30 days.