Land For Future Sports Tourism Development Purchased By Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism
111-acre parcel acquired on Coastal Gateway Boulevard between cities
By Gulf Coast Media, July 5, 2022
Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism closed on 111.26 acres of land in northeast Gulf Shores last Tuesday, June 28, which will be used by Gulf Shores | Orange Beach Sports & Events (formerly the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission) for sports and event tourism.
The purchase was alluded to by Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft during the groundbreaking ceremony for 12 pickleball courts at the Sportsplex two weeks ago, June 22.
“There will be another Bodenhamer (Recreation) Center, there will be pickleball courts; there will be a lot of different activities on that side,” Craft said. “We recognize (pickleball) is not just an existing-today sport, it’s a growing sport. And, all of us, as we get older, this is the kind of activity in sports that we can enjoy and be a little more friendly on our legs.”
With a growing population in the cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach and two city school systems comes a greater need to help alleviate sports tourism play from the local sports complexes and school facilities to leave room for residential use.
Sports and event tourism remains a key economic driver in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, particularly outside of the peak summer season.
“As field use increases for the city school systems and local youth sports, there is shrinking space to maintain and grow sports and event tourism,” said Beth Gendler, CMP, CDME, president and CEO of the tourism bureau. “There is very limited real estate of any sizable portion left in south Baldwin County, so we knew we needed to purchase a large parcel of land before it was gone. With guidance and direction from our board of directors, we were able to find and secure this land to insure the future of sports tourism along the Gulf Coast.”
Grant Brown, public information officer and recreation and cultural affairs director for the City of Gulf Shores, explained why north was basically the only possible expansion direction remaining.
“We did an RFQ, we’re hiring a company to help us masterplan it and it will have all sorts of amenities – it’ll have a pond with a trail system and some type of recreation center, some type of sport courts; we’re determining all of that now,” Brown said at the June 22 groundbreaking. “Our big issue, the growth in Gulf Shores is happening obviously to the north. We can’t go south because of the Gulf of Mexico, east is Orange Beach and west is Fort Morgan so we’re pretty well locked into just north expansion so we need to have amenities up here in the northern part of the city for the people now living here.”
The parcel of land is located to the west and north of the Auburn University satellite facility at Coastal Gateway Boulevard (County Road 8 East) and the Foley Beach Express. The far north end of the property meets the city of Foley line and is close to the Orange Beach city limits.
The next step for the organization is to source a research firm to conduct a sports facility feasibility study, which will determine the needs of the community, what should be built and how to manage it.
The goal of this project is to fill the facility gap to grow sports and event tourism while enhancing residential needs. For more information on GSOB Sports & Events, visit GSOBsports.com.
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