The Sports Complex—at 50 Chip Seal Parkway off U.S. 98—opened in July and a grand opening is scheduled Oct. 5.
PANAMA CITY BEACH — The Panama City Beach Sports Complex is preparing for an upcoming grand opening, according to an update given Tuesday during a regular Bay County Tourist Development Council meeting.
The Sports Complex, at 50 Chip Seal Parkway off U.S. 98, opened in July and a grand opening is scheduled for Oct. 5. Since the July opening, events have been held at the sports complex, which is expected to generate revenue on a year-round basis.
“Our grass is coming in,” said Elizabeth Moore, president of Anchor CEI, which is overseeing design and construction. “The focus is, once they finish all the landscaping and irrigation around the artificial fields, they’ll move to the natural turf fields. They’ll put all the grass around those and then they’ll go to the entrance road and then they’ll finish up in the parking lot.”
Lights are up and Moore said the boardwalk “turned out amazingly well.” Walkways will be poured for fields 10-13 and shade structures for bleachers are also going up. Entrance road signs are also expected to come in.
“Still left to do—the pedestrian walkway lights. There should be fixtures all along the walkways there,” Moore said. “The final roadway paving, that’s going to be one of the very last things we do but we’ll have that done before October.”
Moore said “everything is going well” and “it’s very manageable what we’ve got left.” J.D. Wood, general manager for the sports complex, said they have gotten “tons and tons of compliments.”
“I don’t see any big-ticket items that are coming out that we’re having to adjust,” Moore said. “All in all, I think everybody’s pretty happy with it."
TDC President Dan Rowe also gave an update on the U.S. 231 visitor center in Jackson County after being asked about it by Panama City Beach Mayor Mike Thomas. U.S. 231 is a main thoroughfare for people visiting Northwest Florida and Panama City Beach.
The center—near the Alabama state line—was almost closed due to budget cuts to the Visit Florida program before the Northwest Florida Tourism Council stepped in to take over. An announcement was made in July about regional officials stepping in.
“We are doing very well with the visitor center on 231,” Rowe said Tuesday. “We are still incorporating the rules of the road in terms of making it much more focused on Northwest Florida than the entire state.”
Regional tourism officials are not planning for Visit Florida to take the center back over, Rowe said. Bay County covers about 28 percent of operations and the total budget for operations is approximately $450,000.
“But then we also have some dollars where we need to renovate that center to make it more Northwest Florida-centric,” Rowe said.
Other news from the TDC meeting:
-Rental property rebuilding in Mexico Beach after Hurricane Michael is “going better than what most destinations would be at this point in the game that have been impacted the way we were,” said Kimberly Shoaf, president of the Mexico Beach Community Development Council. None of their condos or hotels are back “online” yet, mostly due to insurance issues. “We still have no gas stations, no grocery stores,” said Shoaf. The Mexico Beach Welcome Center has gotten a new modular building and the City and CDC are working together to rebuild the Welcome Center.