A former NFL, CFL and NCAA football coach is turning his attention on making an impact on North Country youth.
Mike Sherman, who spent six years leading the Green Bay Packers, is pushing forward with a $85 million youth sports and event center in the town of Watertown.
“Sports have been great for me, great for my family, obviously with me having been involved in coaching. But I know with my own kids it's taught them toughness. It's taught them how to handle adversity,” Sherman said.
The goal, Sherman said, is to bring the community closer together through sport.
"We can bring people in here. They compete at a high level. Win or lose, shake hands afterwards," he said.
To help teach those life lessons through sport and activity, the 520,000 square-foot facility — more than seven city blocks — would have turf fields for sports like lacrosse, soccer and football, basketball and volleyball courts and a hydraulic track. There would be NHL-sized ice sheets, space for trade shows and a venue for concerts and theater. But also for families, there'd be daycare, a business center and restaurants.
“We really want everybody to not only get a sense of great customer service, but we want a family vibe and we want you to come spend three or four or five hours and feel comfortable doing so. That's kind of when we talk about community, it's being an asset within the community,” Bill Collett said.
Collette is the president of Mike Sherman Sports (MS2), the company behind this vision. Through this project, MS2 hopes to create 270 jobs and generate nearly $200 million in spending in just the first five years.
“But we don't want to come up here and act like we're pushing our way in. We want to be a value-add. We're not coming up here to cannibalize anything that already exists. We're trying to add on to it,” Collett said.
But for all of this to become a reality sooner rather than later, New York will have to want to play ball.
The plan calls for $25 million of the project to be privately funded and $37 million to come from a taxable bond, which leaves $23 million. Advisers on this project say New York has been willing to step up when it comes to similar projects in other regions of the state including Jamestown.
"All we ask is if you take a look on balance at all the benefits that are created by this project and you look at other investments made across the state, we think it makes a very strong case. It almost makes it on its own straight away," advisor David Machlica added.
Meetings with the state are already planned and, if all goes to plan, shovels could be in the ground by late this summer.
Mike Sherman Sports has helped develop more than $10 billion worth of sport and entertainment facilities around the country, including two new National Hockey League arenas in Seattle and UBS Arena in Queens with Oak View Group as the majority partner.