After the recession imposed seven years of dwindling construction job opportunities, things are brightening on the construction front, including in the sports and recreation sector, according to Sports Facilities Advisory (SFA), a consulting group that helps finance multimillion-dollar public and private sports complexes throughout the United States and internationally.
SFA produces institutional-grade financial forecasts for new sports complexes, helps municipalities and private developers obtain Wall Street financing, and oversees the opening and management of these complexes.
As the economy gradually recovers and adds construction jobs, SFA’s mission is to take on only those sports and recreation projects it deems feasible—increasing the likelihood that conservative lending institutions and private equity firms will be willing to fund them.
SFA’s efforts are helping produce hundreds of millions of dollars in construction projects over the next five years, which CEO Dev Pathik says is made possible by the fact that youth and amateur sports is emerging as a booming economic market.
Fueled by a passion for sports and a commitment to the economy, SFA has assisted in the construction of millions of square feet of indoor youth and amateur sports facilities and more than 800 acres of outdoor complexes.
One such facility is Rocky Top Sports World in Gatlinburg, Tenn., which opened in July. The facility’s upcoming events will attract more than 30,000 new visitors to Gatlinburg in 2014-2015 and create tens of thousands of hotel room night stays for the Smoky Mountain city. SFA and its sister company, The Sports Facilities Management L.L.C., is also hiring dozens of facility staff, general managers and advisors to support the companies’ growth.
Another growing construction niche in this sector is tournament-style facilities, which will support the burgeoning sports tourism industry that is projected to contribute $600 billion to the economy by 2018. Sports tourism will lead to rapid building of more complex sports facilities to host newer, bigger crowds.
With these types of projects comes the need for planning, management and funding services to boost the economy and redirect cash investments into an industry that had been so severely wounded.
“SFA is contributing to the recovery of the construction industry because new complexes often require infrastructure development, such as new roadways and parking,” Pathik says. “These facilities become destinations within their communities that attract visitors, and can be used to revitalize an area.”
“Sports tourism is a wave of opportunity that is creating healthy places for kids and families to play across a variety of industries,” Pathik says. “As we emerge from a recession that left many Americans in dire straits, it is paramount for everyone to take notice of the vitality of sports tourism and the economic benefits it offers.”