After heated debate over the company that wants to bring a new multi-use sports complex to Corpus Christi’s Southside, city council has delayed its vote to change a lease agreement for that proposed facility. Council members voted unanimously on Michael Hunter’s motion to table the vote for two weeks.
6 Investigates uncovered the fact that valuable city land was being leased to SQH Sports, the private developer behind this project, for just $1 per year. We’ve now learned that the land is worth close to $1 million, after the city hired a commercial appraiser to determine the market value. That new information is why the council is reconsidering a lease with the company.
SQH Sports is already leasing 68 acres of city land near the Oso Creek for $1 per year. Now, the company says it wants to build an even bigger sports complex and it needs more land to do that. Overall, it would total about 200 acres.
The complex would include 12 baseball diamonds, 11 outdoor soccer fields and an indoor fieldhouse with six basketball courts. During the council meeting’s public comment period, supporters of the complex lined up to say the project is needed.
“If we build a facility here, it will be a lot easier for athletes to be seen, to be noticed by coaches,” said Steven Perales.
Sal Romeros III also supports the project, saying, “We believe it would be a great economic boom to the Southside. We believe this is a positive thing for the city.”
However, some council members weren’t sure the proposed complex was worth leasing out more land for the same $1 rate to SQH Sports.
“You guys have no track record,” Mayor Joe McComb asserted during the two-hour discussion. “so I find it difficult to move forward, if we’re going to continue to negotiate these leases here. I can’t move forward any further than today.”
Lucy Rubio was on the opposite side and said that she was ready to move forward with the project.
“I just hate the idea that you’ve dragged along this company for all these years and then, all of a sudden, let’s just start all over again,” she said. She then turned her attention to representatives with SQH Sports, adding, “I have a problem with that because if I was in your shoes, I would feel like I was being played.”
In the end, the council voted to table the vote until its August 28 meeting. Hunter proposed that the developer and city staff renegotiate the terms of the revised lease for the extra acreage that SQH Sports is seeking for the project.