Bell Bank appoints Arizona Youth Sports Hub

The sports complex, shown in a rendering, will include an amphitheater that can be used for concerts. (Courtesy of Legacy Sports USA)

The resort, slated to open in January, covers 320 acres in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa

Bell Bank has signed a 10-year naming rights agreement for a massive youth sports complex under construction in Mesa, Arizona, as the North Dakota-based financial institution expands its presence in key markets nationwide.

Bell Bank Park Powered by Legacy Sports USA is the official name of the $ 283 million project covering 320 acres. Its opening is scheduled for early January in Mesa, a suburb of Phoenix with 500,000 inhabitants. Legacy Sports USA is the developer of the project.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but industry sources said the annual value was in the lowest seven digits.

Naming rights for these types of sites typically cost less than $ 500,000 per year, said officials from OVG Global Partnerships, the agency that negotiates the deal for the developer, and OVG Facilities, which has been selected to manage. the complex.

OVG Partnerships and OVG Facilities are two divisions of Oak View Group, which also owns VenuesNow.

The reach of Bell Bank Park offers immense value, according to project officials. It is expected to welcome 5 million athletes and their families each year. That number is higher than the combined annual attendance of Phoenix’s four major league teams, they said.

Bell Bank, a 55-year-old company based in Fargo, North Dakota, operates in retail banking and mortgage banking, among other financial services. The bank has over $ 10 billion in assets.

At Mesa, the naming rights deal builds on the bank’s other sports-related assets.

Bell Bank has naming rights to a front door at Allianz Field, where it is a founding partner of the home of Minnesota United FC, a Major League Soccer team. The bank also has naming rights to a hospitality space at the 3M Open, a PGA Tour event in Blaine, Minnesota.

The Bell Bank Park deal grew out of a LinkedIn post by Ryan Brach, senior vice president of OVG Global Partnerships, sharing news that the agency was representing Legacy Sports USA to sell the naming rights.

Katie Sarver, senior vice president and community development at Bell Bank, saw the post on social media.

Sarver previously worked for Minnesota United FC in sponsorship sales and for the Minnesota Timberwolves in community relations. She contacted Brach and discussed the opportunity before submitting it to Kyle Kennedy, president and chief banking officer for the Phoenix area.

Over the next two months, Bell Bank and OVG began talks for naming rights before the deal was signed.

Bell Bank continues to expand its presence across Arizona after acquiring a mortgage company there in 1998. Twenty-one years later, in 2019, Bell Bank opened its first full-service location in Chandler.

Kennedy joined Bell Bank in 2019. He focused on sponsoring Phoenix Big League teams before visiting the Mesa complex and meeting with the Legacy Sports group. Through these discussions, he realized that it would become the largest youth sports complex in the country, with 75 acres more than ESPN Wide World of Sports in the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida.

“We see our bank as being a little different and having a park like this was really intriguing,” Kennedy said. “We started doing the math… and all of a sudden it became (a situation where) we have to do it. It will be a great investment. “

Indoor facilities include basketball and volleyball courts, an esports facility, and dance / gymnastics and cheerleading centers. (Courtesy of Legacy Sports USA)

The bank has three outlets in Greater Phoenix, the nation’s fifth largest city. It plans to open three more full-service locations, as well as five mortgage bank branches.

The bank’s long-term vision is to become the state’s largest private financial institution, Kennedy said.

Dan Griffis, President of OVG Global Partnerships, said, “They are investing heavily in Arizona and see it as a platform that would give them opportunities, based on the sheer number of people and families who will come by and enjoy this resort. .

Legacy Sports USA formed Legacy Cares as the non-profit organization overseeing the resort, which in turn signed an agreement with OVG Facilities to operate it. Funding for the project came from a series of tax-exempt bonds issued by Ziegler, a specialist investment bank.

Legacy Sports and some of its partners keep a share of the capital, according to Chad Miller, CEO of the company.

Rodney Reese, formerly of ESPN’s Wide World of Sports, has been hired as the Managing Director of OVG Facilities at Bell Bank Park. Reese has also run college arenas in Central Florida and Old Dominion.

The complex responds to the demand of sports clubs who need places to play and compete on weekends. Legacy Sports USA officials have signed 10-year contracts for most of its Mesa sites, Miller said.

The resort has engagements from groups across the country, as well as from the UK and South America, he said.

“We never wanted to build it hoping people would come,” Miller said. “We were building it knowing the people would come. The numbers, while aggressive, are realistic. We expect to exceed these numbers early on. ”

Bell Bank Park features eight softball / baseball fields, 19 basketball courts, 57 indoor volleyball courts, 12 beach volleyball courts, 20 artificial grass courts and four natural grass courts, as well as a dance and gymnastics center, a cheerleader center and an esports center.

It will be the headquarters of USA Pickleball, the national governing body of the fast-growing sport played with a paddle and a plastic ball with holes. It mixes elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis. In total, Bell Bank Park will have 41 pickleball courts.

The other major tenants are Arizona Arsenal, a large youth football club; Arizona Dynamics Gymnastics; Arizona Elite Basketball, a girls’ hoop organization; and the Arizona region of USA Volleyball.

In addition, there is a 17,000 square foot restaurant, as well as other food concessions throughout the park to accommodate athletes and families coming from out of town. OVG Facilities plans to manage the operation of the concessions internally.

Dusk Robinson, a 28-year restaurant veteran with experience spanning Levy, ASM Global / Savor and half a dozen Hyatt hotels, is OVG’s food and beverage director at Bell Bank Park.

Miller said hotel developments are underway near the resort to complement the existing accommodation facilities.

Live entertainment is a key part of the property.

Bell Bank Park has a concert hall called the Great Lawn, a three-acre amphitheater with a permanent stage in the center of the complex. It leans on an entertainment hallway that Miller compares to Fremont Street in Las Vegas.

Twenty-five acres have been designated for music festivals and overflow space on the grounds.

The vision is to book national tours and family-style shows at the Great Lawn on weekends through the OVG facilities and its relationships with national promoters, Miller said.

In addition to the naming rights, OVG has sold eight sponsorships for the complex and the group plans to sell up to 20 partnerships, Griffis said. To date, no further agreement has been announced.

Overall, the Bell Bank Park deal represents the ninth naming rights deal for OVG Global Partnerships in the past 18 months, topped by Climate Pledge Arena and UBS Arena, two $ 2 billion NHL installations. dollars that will open this fall.

Bell Bank Park is the first of three youth sports complexes that Legacy Sports USA plans to build. The other two projects will be announced over the next 90 days, Miller said.

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