Entrepreneur and former WNBA star Fran Harris unveiled plans for a $ 28.5 million youth sports facility to be built in Sunnyvale next year, complete with a restaurant and retail space .
Harris has partnered with hospitality industry veteran Eric Woerner on the ambitious project to be built 20 minutes east of downtown Dallas.
The 38-acre site will be near the intersection of Town East Boulevard and Belt Line Road in Sunnyvale, and will include fields and fields for baseball, softball, football, soccer, volleyball and more. It will also have a food court, live event space and retail space where Woerner sees the potential to sell branded merchandise.
The entire development will be geared towards families and athletes of all ages and types. The resort is also partnering with the Miracle League to provide a baseball field for children with mental and physical disabilities.
“It will be like a country club or a resort where people can come and spend time all day,” Woerner said.
The Sunnyvale site is ideal because it positions the facility close to major transportation arteries, including the I-635 loop, Woerner said.
“There are over 5,000 selected baseball teams in D-FW alone, so there just aren’t enough places for people to play,” Woerner said. “Right there on the east side of the metro … we’ll be 20 to 30 minutes from almost everyone.”
Woerner is used to working with local professional sports organizations, including the Dallas Mavericks and Texas Rangers. He previously held positions with Landry’s Inc., which operates Saltgrass Steakhouse, and 8020 Hospitality, which manages the Dallas HG Sply Co., Hero and Standard Service restaurants.
The Woerner and Harris Athletic Club Association is the original company and will operate any future branches they may open.
Harris and Woerner are also in talks with a hotel group that The Athletic Club could partner with to add an on-site branded boutique hotel for families and teams traveling to the resort from out of town. The group is still looking for a title sponsor for the entire complex, Harris said.
The town of Sunnyvale is offering around $ 2 million in tax incentives for the development of the track club, according to Woerner.
The Athletic Club has planned investments for the project and will lead the way in the second quarter of 2022 if all goes according to plan, Woerner said, citing the potential for supply chain disruptions.
The Sunnyvale sports complex will be unique in the region in that Harris and Woerner want it to incorporate youth programming that is not traditionally associated with facilities housing basketball and baseball fields.
Some of the concepts initially intended for the development of Forney will arrive at Sunnyvale, including educational programs and technologies for young athletes to learn more about sports broadcasting as well as careers in esports. It will also offer training courses for people who wish to become referees, referees and coaches.
“At some point, everyone is told that they can no longer play the sport they love,” Woerner said. “Some at 18, others at 12, others at 40. Being able to call the game or even umpire or umpire the game in some way still keeps them tied to their passion for life.
Harris, two decades into his professional WNBA career, has been looking for years to start his next chapter in the sport.
In early 2020 – just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit northern Texas – Harris was ready to begin construction of a Forney-like complex that she hoped would revitalize youth sports in the area. But the onset of the pandemic and changes in leadership at the city level have delayed plans for the $ 13 million complex, she said.
The Forney project is on hold at the moment, but Harris said she is confident a facility will still be built there in the future. Harris still sees untapped market potential in Dallas’ rare youth sports space.
“People have seen these country houses going up in Grapevine, in Mansfield, in Frisco. … Dallas has no [youth] sports facilities, which is amazing to me, ”said Harris.