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“I don’t know where this ends”: Alachua County Commission approves over $650k for World Masters event after lengthy discussion

Alachua County Commissioner Anna Prizzia speaks about the World Masters event during the board’s July 9 meeting

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – At the July 9 Alachua County Commission meeting, the board voted, after a lengthy discussion, to allocate $645k to capital improvements at West End for the World Masters Athletic (WMA) Championships event and also approved $6,864 to send two County employees to this year’s event in Sweden.

Budgets for the event and the County’s contributions

County Manager Michele Lieberman said a representative from the Local Organizing Committee for the WMA event had provided budgets for the overall event, for the $350k already allocated by the County Commission, and for $645k that had not yet been allocated but had been previously set aside by the Commission for the event (a million dollars from the Tourist Development Tax was set aside by the Commission about a year ago for the event; the remaining $5k was previously allocated for the administrative fee to the Sports Commission).

Line items for the $350k previously allocated as reimbursements, with about $30k in FY24 and the rest in FY25
Line items for the proposed $645k for West End improvements
Overall event budget, showing a potential loss due to the Governor’s veto of $2.5 million

Lieberman said the $645k would have to be used for the items in the list and that everything in the budget outside the $645k would be paid by the company that operates the Event Center. She added that if the trip to Sweden is approved (also out of tourism development funds), she and Jessica Hurov will be attending this year’s competition, along with members of the Local Organizing Committee, to staff a table and market the 2025 Gainesville games; Lieberman said she would take the first week of the games, and Hurov would take the second week.

Who will be responsible for the loss?

Commissioner Ken Cornell asked who would be responsible for the loss that is currently shown on the event budget, and Svein Dyrkolbotn of Viking Companies said they were “very disappointed” by the Governor’s veto of $2.5 million that the legislature had allocated to the event. Dyrkolbotn said, “Once we… didn’t get the state dollars, being committed to my partnership with the County,… this would be our contribution through the Operations Agreement we have with you all for the Event Center; we believe it will pay dividends long-term because most of the loss that you see there – if you look at the capital improvements that are occurring near the Event Center and Celebration Pointe itself, it’s an investment, but we want multiple events in the future.”

Cornell again asked why Dyrkolbotn would take on an event that is projected to lose $600k, and Dyrkolbotn repeated that he considered the capital improvements as an investment toward future events.

Is a throwing area needed?

Cornell also questioned the throwing area that will be built for javelin, hammer, and discus events at West End because he believed the community prefers pickleball courts, a pool, and a driving range, and he was concerned that the throwing area would be in the way of some of those potential future improvements: “I don’t see the benefit of those events.”

Dyrkolbotn responded that those are requirements to host the WMA event, “so I do think that if we went back and tried to drop those events, that probably would be an issue with WMA.”

Lieberman emphasized that the Tourist Development Tax funds have to be spent to draw tourists to the site, so the park improvements preferred by Cornell will come from other funds in the future.

Economic impact estimated at $18 million

Dylkolbotn said the economic impact of the event to the community is estimated at $18 million, and his company hopes to attract other major track and field events to the area if this event is successful: “So in a sense, if we turn down the WMA today and decide not to invite them into our community, I think that’s going to have a little bit – well, likely have a pretty negative effect on the potential to bring in future events in here. It works against the goal that we set when we developed this Event Center.”

Cornell: “[The state] pulled the commitment, and we’re making up the difference. And I’m not in favor of that.”

Cornell responded, “Yeah, and I hear you loud and clear, Svein, I don’t view us as being responsible for that. I view the state of Florida pulling their $2.5 million commitment as being responsible for that, because what I’m seeing is they pulled the commitment, and we’re making up the difference. And I’m not in favor of that. I was in favor of the million dollars when the Governor and the legislature were going to give us two and a half million… I feel like if we actually show the community that we’re going to spend $650,000 for javelin, hammer, and discus in an area where they’re going to want the exact opposite of that, that we’re not really serving the public… I’m not willing to support it at this point. In fact, I don’t want to support it. I want to put that million dollars back into the tourist development reserves.” 

Alford: “This is why we built the Event Center – to have events. This is a big event. This is the event that puts it on the map.”

Chair Mary Alford disagreed, saying it would have been great if the state had given the money, but she hadn’t counted on it: “This is why we built the Event Center – to have events. This is a big event. This is the event that puts it on the map. This is the event that goes on… ESPN, that other people look at and go, ‘Let’s go to Gainesville.'”

Hurov said the proposed cross country track at West End will enable the County to host cross country meets and 5k fundraising events. She said she believed it would be a “win for all involved. I do have confidence that when we look at the totality of track opportunities, we have fall cross country, we have winter indoor [track], and then we have spring outdoor track.”

Prizzia said the decision was already made to build a Sports Event Center when she was elected, and “I was like, Okay, I’m gonna ride with y’all… And now we have an over $30 million investment for sports tourism in Alachua County that is focused on track. So we’re in it for a penny, and we’re in it for a pound, in my opinion.”

Prizzia: “What the Governor did doesn’t surprise me either, because that’s what he does. He likes to have big, fancy things that he can stroke his pen on and cross off and look like a hero at the end of the budget. “

Prizzia continued, “What the Governor did doesn’t surprise me either, because that’s what he does. He likes to have big, fancy things that he can stroke his pen on and cross off and look like a hero at the end of the budget. So it doesn’t surprise me a lick. Does it piss me off? Yes. Is it frustrating for the people of Florida and for sports tourism and for all the other reasons that it’s a bad decision? Yes; still leaves us in a lurch.”

Offsetting “the impacts of this event from an environmental and a climate standpoint”

She said the County Commission talks about climate change, and they have the opportunity to think about “how are we offsetting the impacts of this event from an environmental and a climate standpoint? That needs to happen… But I do think that this is, overall, potentially a positive for our community. I am concerned about our ability to carry it off without all the money we had. The negative budget makes me nervous, and I don’t want to have conversations every two or three months about, well, now we have a shortfall here, we need more money, and now we have a shortfall here, we need more money… So if we do move forward, I want to walk away today with some assurances that this million dollars we’re spending is going to be the million dollars that’s going to make the difference to this project happening and that your willingness to take that loss on some of those other infrastructure pieces makes sense because it’s an asset to the Sports Events Center and Celebration Pointe and to future events attractions, and not that at the eleventh hour, it’s going to be ‘We need a bailout again,’ that’s for sure.”

Prizzia concluded, “When it comes to the World Masters, I’m not ready to pull the plug now, because y’all already made me sign a $30 million check for sports. And so, you know, I feel like we’re kind of there, and I don’t really see how we’re just going to, like, go halfway and not finish the job.”

Wheeler: The event is “a means to an end” that resulted in the purchase of West End property

Commissioner Marihelen Wheeler said she saw the event as “a means to an end: We were really trying to get the West End Park and were not able to get the momentum we needed to get that done, and Svein helped us get that done as a part of a plan… I think we have to honor [the commitment to the Masters event] this year.” 

Alford said that while Lieberman and Hurov are in Sweden, they could promote local companies that provide carbon offsets for travel, which she said is required in many European countries. 

Hurov said County staff members would be meeting with the Sports Center the next day to discuss a sustainability plan for the event and for the future. Alford said she was specifically talking about “local groups that do these carbon offsets put that money right back into our community.” She also pointed out that the County saved several million on the West End property because it was initially priced at $6 million, “so I feel like we’ve got a little bit of investment money to think about there.” She said she would like to get regular updates on the project and its budget from the County Manager.

After more questions from Cornell about the budget, Lieberman explained that the Operating Agreement for the Event Center requires “Viking or Svein, or whatever that entity is, to backstop all losses in the operations of the Event Center.”

Cornell: “I don’t know where this ends, and until I can see audited financials of an entity that’s guaranteeing this event that we’re putting a million dollars in, I don’t want to put the County’s money into it.”

Lieberman said the County is doing an audit of the company that operates the Event Center, and Cornell said he didn’t want to move forward until he has seen it “because, from my perspective, the County’s on the hook for a million, and it’s going to be maybe more if they don’t get the $200,000 grant. It’s $1,200,000, maybe more. And so I don’t know where this ends, and until I can see audited financials of an entity that’s guaranteeing this event that we’re putting a million dollars in, I don’t want to put the County’s money into it.”

He said he would make a substitute motion, “if y’all make a motion,” to “reallocate this million dollars to park improvements of West End that qualify under Tourist Development Tax, like cross country and other events to improve the park.”

Prizzia pointed out that they had previously approved $350,000, “so it’s not a million, it’s $645k that we’re talking about right now… I’m all in for investing the million, actually, if that million is backstopped by the private entities and the community organizations that are invested in making this World Masters a success and in making our Sports Event Center a success, because I do think that this event and the investments that would be made to expand our capabilities for track and field would be a wise investment, given our already large $30 million investment in track and field type activities.”

Cornell responded, “When the Governor pulled the two and a half million, everything changed for me. It’s not [Dyrkolbotn’s] fault, you know? That’s what happened. And so since that happened, if an entity is going to guarantee [a financial loss] in an event that the County is investing a million dollars in at the very least, we should look at all the financial statements of that entity and say they can achieve that, at the very least.”

Lieberman clarified that under the Operating Agreement for the Event Center, “that entity is backstopping every single event, not just this one – every single event that is going through there. And we’ve not asked for that information for every single event.”

Cornell said, “We haven’t given them a million dollars for every single event,” and Lieberman responded, “Understood, but we provided $30 million for the center itself.”

Crosby: “The County has put no additional funds into the Sports Event Center for the operation of the Sports Event Center.” 

Deputy County Manager Tommy Crosby said the County is actually not auditing the entity that runs the Event Center: “We’re doing an ‘agreed-upon procedures’ – making sure the revenues are complete, that we’re getting any hotel rebates, we’re getting any parking, we’re getting all the stuff that’s supposed to be included in our revenue stream, and then seeing what that net position is… The County has put no additional funds into the Sports Event Center for the operation of the Sports Event Center.” 

Alford said that since it was 5:00, they needed to break so the video could be reset for their evening meeting, which was scheduled to begin at 5:00. 

First motion

Cornell made a motion to “reallocate the $970,000 of unspent monies – because we’ve spent $30k previously allocated to the World Masters – back to the Tourist Development Tax reserves and use those for future park improvements to West End or other tourist activities.” The motion did not receive a second.

Second motion

Prizzia made a motion to table the issue “so that we have a more robust conversation.” Cornell seconded the motion.

Lieberman said that if they tabled it to their next meeting, which is in mid-August, “most of these improvements will not occur, and I don’t know that, from a project standpoint, they would timely be able to occur, because there are some timelines. And we will cancel any travel plans as well.”

Alford decided that they would take up the issue as the eighth agenda item in their evening meeting. Tamara Robbins pointed out from the audience that there was a motion on the floor to table the item, and they didn’t take public comment on it. Alford said there was no second to the motion, but Cornell can clearly be heard seconding it on the video.

Evening session

When the Commissioners returned from a brief break, Alford said she had “just been informed that we have a motion and we can dispense with” the World Masters item “very quickly if we move forward.”

Third motion

Prizzia made a motion to approve staff’s recommendation to allocate $645k with the addition of a budget amendment to transfer the Tourist Development funds into an expenditure account and “with the assurance that none of the improvements to the West End park will impact the ability for the park facilities to be what the residents say they want during the community meeting on August 13.” Wheeler seconded the motion. 

Cornell had not returned from the break, and during public comment on the motion, Tamara Robbins asked whether he knew the item was being considered. He arrived a moment later, and the motion was repeated for him; he asked Alford to split the motion. 

Robbins said she did not support the motion and hadn’t supported the Sports Event Center; she questioned who would make up any financial loss caused by the World Masters and said it was ridiculous to build a throwing area for javelin and discus at a public park.

Cornell: “I really think we’ve got to kind of start to hone in on the operations of the Event Center, the entity that’s running it. Is it profitable?”

Cornell said the vote felt rushed because the board should get an audit of the entity operating the sports event center in August and he wanted to know more about who would get the contracts for the improvements that would be funded by the $645k: “I think these are things that we should be looking at, just not writing a blank check about. And I think we have time to do that… I really think we’ve got to kind of start to hone in on the operations of the Event Center, the entity that’s running it. Is it profitable?”

Prizzia said they had already made a “commitment to sports tourism as a key component of economic development in this community,” the money was coming from the Tourist Development Tax, and that’s “exactly what [the tax] is for… We’re in it for a penny, we’re in it for a pound, and we need to continue to live up to that commitment and to those partnerships… to be a premier destination for track and field events. And now we’re almost there.”

Votes

The vote to approve $645k from Tourism Reserves for capital improvements at West End was 3-1 with Cornell in dissent and Commissioner Chuck Chestnut absent.

The vote to approve the travel to Sweden for Lieberman and Hurov and ask Lieberman to send the board monthly financial reports for the event was 4-0 with Chestnut absent. 

    • At least the locals will have a place to practice throwing rocks and spears at one another…then local leaders will have to have a rock, hammer & spear summit.

  • Another Field of Dreams.
    If you build it they will come. Tax and spend liberals recklessly spending taxpayer money.

    Here’s a motion, use the money to fix the ROADS!

  • And yet we STILL do not have a new facility for Animal Resources and continue to not have the resources needed to for it to be properly run. SMH

  • This may sound dumb, but are commissioners allowed to educate themselves on issues prior to meetings. Or do they just vote. Money doesn’t seem real to this group of people. Just spend it.
    And what does climate change have to do with anything. If concerned about carbon footprint, let’s scrap the whole idea and just plant trees. And show the rest of the world we are willing to give up money, in order to save the planet. Let Gainesville be a place people come to relax and each nature. Does anyone know on top of their head who the current record hold for the javelin throw is?

      • Change discus to frisbee and you have something. Change spear chucking to knife throwing and you can reduce the number of guns. Change hammer throwing to hammer beating swords into farm tools..

    • Sadly, Florida is one of only 14 states that allow high school students to throw javelin. All the others declare it too dangerous to promote in high school. On the other hand, when the local young thugs learn javelins are much quieter than guns, they will all want to go to West End to take lessons.

  • Talking out of both sides of their mouth, climate change and jet setting to Sweden….and how are people that decide “let’s go to Gville” going to get here? Walk, bike or drive “electric” cars only? 🤣

    You better clean up the streets or they’ll only go to Gville once.

  • Well Commsioners you have proven to the State as well a local property owners, you excell at wasting others peoples money and do not realize priorities. Request Denied.

  • I think a javelin throwing area will be a nice addition. There are no good places around Jonesville to do this.

  • The BOCC are such clueless hypocrites. They have been “working on” a climate plan since 2019 but nothing produced yet. Just promises of “we’re working on it.” They claim to be concerned about carbon offsets, yet their prime directive is now focused on out of town sports tourism, most who get here by burning fossil fuel. Total conflict of purposes.
    For example, if this boondoggle track meet brings the claimed attendance from Europe, the round trip jet travel will burn a minimum of 5,000,000 gallons of jet fuel. (not a typo, calculate it yourself) What is the carbon offset for that?

  • Don’t know where it will end? As you approve $685,000 to fund it. Stroke a check for $6400 (or so) dollars to send two county employees to Sweden to attend the festivities. Now that is good management of the tax payers money. I bet the two lucky ’employees’ won’t be from the road dept.

    • Of course not! It’s Manager Lieberman and Tourism Director Jessica Hurov… It’s a thinly veiled Girls Trip for these besties, with just enough work thrown in to have the taxpayers pay for it…

      • Yup. This is what happens when emotional women run things. Their emotions trump their logic.

    • Travel and Expense Information

      County Manager Lieberman
      Travel Dates: depart Gainesville Sunday, August 11, 2024/arrive Gothenburg Monday, August 12, 2024 – Sunday, August 18, 2024
      Estimated Airfare $2,000.00
      Quality Hotel Waterfront: $140/night x 6 nights $840.00
      Airport Parking $10/day $60.00
      International cell phone plan $10/day $60.00
      Meals $54.00/day x 8 days $432.00
      Total estimated cost $3,392.00

      Tourism Director Jessica Hurov
      Travel Dates: Saturday, August 17, 2024-Saturday, August 24, 2024
      Estimated Airfare $2,000.00
      Quality Hotel Waterfront: $140/night x 7 nights $980.00
      International cell phone plan $10/day $60.00
      Meals $54.00/day x 8 days $432.00
      Total estimated cost $3,472.00

      Interesting note: in Europe, unlike any trip to the USA, there is no cost for a rental car, because Europe has EXCELLENT public transportation. The bus rental to provide transportation for the WMA athletes is going to be a huge cost, and clog Gainesville roads with busses so Svein can charge double the normal rates, or $290 per night, for his Hotel Indigo to gouge the Europeans. Other than a few mostly out of town hotel owners and out of town chain restaurants, no one in Gainesville benefits. That $18 million “benefit” Svein claims is a fictitious as his Sports Center bookkeeping. But Lieberman, or rather the taxpayers, has to pay $60 to park her car at the US airport cuz she is too IMPORTANT to get a ride or use an Uber.

      • Is Gothenburg a walkable city?
        Gothenburg is a pocket-size metropolis, with many of its attractions at walking distance – or a Gothenburg tram ride away.

        August weather:
        Mean high 71 F
        Mean low 57 F

        Is Goteborg a safe city?
        Safety at night: Very safe
        Gothenburg is generally very safe at night. Street lights are well-maintained and crime rates are low. Public spaces are often populated even in the late hours, and the local law enforcement is reliable and responsive.

        Crime has been low since campers at the Gothenburg Grace Market Place were all executed in 1620.

      • So Lieberman is going to the Gothenburg WMA and staying in a mid price hotel for $140 a night. In the upcoming Gainesville WMA a low price hotel thru the LOC is about $200. Yes, Gainesville hotel owners have doubled rates to gouge and hose the European visitors, who are paying their own way. They are just marks to be fleeced by Celebration Pointe venders. Just a worst example of American greed.

      • Thank you for getting the travel costs breakdown. Taxpayers should NOT pay for this, but, then again the BOCC won’t deny anything for Lieberman or Hurov. Let them pay.

  • I am surprised that by now out of state developers haven’t swooped in and converted the land to three story wooden osb clad condos…..Also, how many old retirees are going to risk throwing javelin and discus? Where does it end? Not at $645k… try about 2.5 mil for the finished product and don’t forget to budget for the ongoing maintenance and labor costs to keep the place up.

  • The problem I have with all of this spending for a sports facility is because of what’s become of some of the multi-million dollar+ facilities that have been constructed for Olympic facilities in years past. Unless I’m mistaken, the Olympics are a much larger draw than this so-called Master’s event which will have nowhere near the economic impact of the former. The same conversation could be made about numerous professional arenas that have been held hostage by team owners unless funding was made for new construction or costly renovations.

    Sounds to me there’s more master bating over spending money than there is with providing something for the local public’s enjoyment.

  • It’s worth the risk, because Track & Field is a very popular and important sport thanks to UF. This will build on an an already existing community and history known worldwide here in the Gainesville area.
    It’s not a risk at all, when you consider much of the publicity has sleazy been done.
    Even if it went bust for some reason, the West End real estate is an ideal public park year round, helping maintain community in the Jonesville – Tioga area. It’ll help property tax revenues indefinitely as well.

  • Brilliant Liberal planning on full display. Instead of waiting to see if the state grant was approved they move forward and buy the property. Desantis vetoed the grant and now they have to pay money for development they (we) don’t have. Perfect example of planning without logic.

    • Yes, it’s the Governors fault for this new development with this vanity project happening, per the Commissioner 🙄

      Carbon is bad! Come travel to our city! Here’s some offsets you can get locally so we can feel good about it. It’s all such nonsense 😒

      • In my opinion the Commissioner is a certifiable lunatic.

        Btw, someone should look at the number of conferences she attends – or more specifically how much our tax dollars are funding boondoggles.

  • Fantastic!!! Gives me a perfect excuse to raise my rents again! My Tenants will be thrilled. If I raise rent by $50 per month, times 12 months, that is $600 in my pocket (times 5 properties)! Spending other people’s money is easy!!!

  • IMHO, County Manager Lieberman needs to register as a lobbyist for Celebration Pointe. She spends more time writing county tax checks to her pal Svein than she spends taking care of the other 280,000 citizens of Alachua County. She needs to quit and go to work for Celebration Pointe. It is all she cares about.

  • Well bless your hearts, did alls y’all know that there are some real Suthanahs on our county commission that have hankerins to spend the bettah part of a milyun dollahs on some fancy dress krokay games that will git at least a cupple duzen turists to come and watch after payin karbon taxes cuz savin tha klymat?

  • The money pit is endless. Mr. Rodriguez told the BOCC that the Europeans are begging to come to Gainesville for this track meet. They can’t wait. So WHY does the budget have $185,100 for “Marketing”? if this WMA is so popular the marketing costs should be minimal.

    Note: Svein D. said this WMA meet would produce 14,000 hotel bed nights. The local hotels have doubled their rates and average $200 per night. That is $2,800,000 to the hotel owners. The county tourist bed tax is 5%. So Alachua County gets $140,000 from this WMA. They have spent this ten to twenty times over, with more to come. The claimed “benefit” to the taxpayers does not cover the $180,100 Marketing expense. This money pit will consume millions MORE before it is over.
    Note they have $90,000 in the budget to rent RTS busses to shuttle athletes from hotels to venues (required by MA rules). There goes the $140,000 bed tax windfall.

  • You Commisinors Are A Bunch Of Deep State Criminals [Spend Money On Things We don’t Want Like A Golf Coarse FIX Roads !!!!!!! Thiefs

  • Finally, an issue that transcends party lines. They have almost no public support for this but continue to throw money at it. They teamed up with a less-than-par developer and now the county is left holding the bag.

    The only supporters are: some county employees, hotel owners, business owners in Celebration Pointe, and some residents of West End. The other 200,000+ county residents are just shaking their heads in disbelief

    • I totally agree with “Finally, an issue that transcends party lines.” However, I am bothered.
      There is an election coming up. Two commissioners have primary or Republican opponents. In the old days, an issue like this would be called a “campaign issue” and the opponents would be screaming from the rooftop that the incumbents are screwing local residents, a reason to vote for the challenger.
      What do we have? Silence. Apparently all candidates approve of this “sports tourism” emphasis, and approve of continuous county checks being written to Svein. The Republicans have single member districts and have totally blown their chance.
      Vote for who you want, nothing will change.
      Vote for the Republican from Newberry, home of Chuck Clemons. Chuck is a good buddy of Republican donor Svein.
      I should have been a Viking raider. Pays well.

      • Agree – No argument from me. The donor class always prevails to the detriment of everyday people. That’s the problem with the two party (one party) political system in this country.

  • Alachua County claims to practice transparency. For all that marketing money, the BOCC needs to prominently require this statement on all marketing material given to Europeans:

    “Notice: Alachua County has declared a State of Gun Violence Emergency. Almost everyone in Florida is allowed to carry a gun. Enter at your own risk. In addition, the area around the Archer Road-Interstate 75 interchange just south of Celebration Pointe is full of criminal homeless persons camping. Enter at your own risk of mugging or murder. Enjoy your visit Gainesville/Alachua County.”

  • Meanwhile, while you are occupied with this, the BOCC is raising taxes 6.87% over the roll back rate to give them more money to give to pet social projects like Working Foods, a Food Hub, and a Food Truck to sell bean sprouts in East Gainesville.

    • Better watch out, those folks on the east side eating bean sprouts will be accused of having Glock ‘switches’ when the methane comes buzzing out of their posteriors at high velocity!

  • Congratulations BOCC! You found another area in which to steal money after your loss of Gru. I want to go to sweden! Does it have to be someone from the board or can it be a community member? We already have major sporting events here that makes traveling in Gainesville a nightmare. Do you think that we can maybe put the money toward a new animal shelter as promised 4 years ago? Money was put aside for that shelter and yet nothing has happened? I know they’re just animals to you, but for those of us at work in the community with animals the situation is horrifying. I am absolutely disgusted that this is a topic of conversation when we have so many other things that need to be fixed in gainesville. Why would you even want to bring tourists here when it isn’t even safe to walk downtown at night? Get your priorities straight!

  • Another sports complex, they just built the Sports Complex in Celebration Pointe and how is that doing. That is a great venue for Track and Field – how many more do we need? We have 4 Public permanent pickleball courts in the county, that would be a good addition – not Javelin throwing (major eye roll)!

    Fix the ROADS

    • The Celebration Pointe Sports Center is open about a year and a half. It is LOSING roughly One Million dollars a year so far. Looks to do the same in the future. The “loss” is on paper, and Svein D. does the questionable bookkeeping, while charging Alachua County for his accountant. He also promises to make up the difference, like he did with the WMA, but he is in federal bankruptcy court for over $200 million, and owes Alachua County $780,000 for years of unpaid back property taxes. Where is the money coming from?

      He has a contract for the sports center, and he can be “fired” if he underperforms for three years, and he eats any loses. However, if the County fires him without cause, the County must pay him for the “loses” he has racked up on paper. I predict he will rack up 4 or 5 million in paper loses, the BOCC and his pal Lieberman will fire him, and the County taxpayers will write him his retirement check for the 5 million. EVERYTHING about Celebration Pointe, the Sports Center, West End, and the WMAs has only one thing in common: Alachua County taxpayers write Svein D. a check. WHY?

      The Sports Center bookkeeping is, IMHO, a RICO scam. Crosby, Lieberman, and the BOCC refuse to audit the sports center expenses, even though they are public records which Svein will not release. It may take a RICO Grand Jury to sort this out.

  • The UF track has javelin, discus and hammer throw areas. Why not use the UF track for these activites that will be used only once?

  • This is the worst delusion (decision) the BOCC has made since approving the events center to begin with. You don’t seem capable of even building a simple county fairgrounds. And all of this comes after you had to pay millions to get out of another signed agreement, because you “changed your minds”.

  • Suppose that we are about to have a big recession. If the economy turns down, none of these plans are gonna work. I think it is time to be very careful.

    • The $30 million Sports Center Bonds ($38 million with interest) is pledged to be paid with tourist bed tax money. Current payments are mostly interest only, total about $800,000 per year. If something, like another covid lockdown, interrupts the tourist tax money income, the BOCC has pledged other non ad valorum tax income to pay off the bonds, which is primarily sales tax revenue. If tourism tanks, the BOCC takes sales tax money and pays off the bonds, instead of fixing the roads. Local taxpayers be screwed.

  • As it happens, I have seen Gothenburg (Yoteyborey). It is lovely……and so are Swedish girls!

  • Liebermann lies for her true bill payers, and the BOCC feigns clueless of what she is doing, so they get their cut! All scammers! Put them all in jail!

  • Why are the event organizers or the county commissioners not trying to coordinate an agreement with UF to use their facilities for the javelin, hammer and discus? Seems ridiculous to spend the tax payers money to build the facilities for these 3 events that will be used for just this event if this type of facility is already available on the UF campus.

    • Tami: Do you not understand yet?
      A. If Alachua County uses the UF facilities, cost to taxpayers is minimal.
      B, If Alachua County builds new stuff at West End or Celebration Pointe, you can bet that somewhere in the process Lieberman will sign a six figure tax money check to her bankrupt pal Svein Dorkymann.
      Will A or B happen? You can bet that only B will be allowed to happen. It is already preordained in back room deals. This is why this whole mess needs to get in front of a RICO grand jury. Your tax dollars at work.

  • I never got the reasoning behind building a sports facility when because of the university, and even Santa Fe, we have sports facilities coming our of our ears. For a repeat of this see the planned new UF golf course out by Oakmont – which at least they’ll be paying for – when numerous courses have died out here in the last decade and the younger generations don’t play golf.

    More ridiculous and counter productive was the county facilitating Celebration which is explicitly competing with Downtown Gainesville for weekend entertainment and dining. Fortunately, the place is poorly designed, ugly, and not doing all that well though it most certainly creates some drag on business downtown. If anyone remembers real downtown in the 80s, it has been highly successful – with planning and city involvement – in recreating itself and becoming a weekend destination for all types, including families for dinner, plays, and free live music in the Plaza. Why would the county encourage screwing with that?

    By the way, for those so inclined, this weekend:

    https://www.gfaastudiotour.org/about

    The Gainesville Fine Arts Association is located in a building on S Main just north of the Winn Dixie.

    • Agree…CP is the definition of poorly planned sprawl. IMO the large land owners and developers are the ones behind the county’s actions. It’s possible the commissioners don’t even realize it….it’s hard to tell the difference between incompetents and corruption.

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