A reported $38 million state-of-the-art athletic training facility is on its way to Wellington, with the backing of an NFL linebacker and support from the village.
Jon Bostic of the Washington Commanders grew up in Wellington, frequently comes back to donate his time to local young people and graduated from Palm Beach Central High School. Now, he’s bringing his vision for a world-class training facility to quiet park that once served as a bustling recreational site, but now sits dormant.
Plans have been in the works for months between Bostic, his teams of planners, lawyers, engineers, sports professionals and architects, and Wellington officials and staff. The village received an update at Tuesday night’s council meeting, where attorney Kaitlin Guerin with Gunster law firm provided more details on where the project stands.
The update followed Bostic’s press blitz last week, where he unveiled details for the project with plans for the site calling for:
- Seven indoor basketball courts that can be converted to 13 volleyball courts
- A multi-purpose turf field
- A turf baseball field and a turf softball field
- A 9,706-square-foot indoor baseball and softball complex with eight batting tunnels
- A 13,511-square-foot membership-based weight room
- A 6,687-square-foot performance gym
- A 14,625-square-foot cheerleading gym
- A recovery center with hot tubs, cold tubs, saunas and steam rooms
- A full-service cafe
- An e-sports gaming lounge
- A 2700-square-foot orthopedics and physical therapy office
- A 1,300-square-foot chiropractic office
The project is planned for Wellington Community Park, the former Boys & Girls Club, at 3401 South Shore Blvd. south of Pierson Road.
Who will pay?
The project previously came before the council in October for an update. “Since then, there’s been a lot of work going on behind the scenes with the whole team,” Guerin said.
One major update was to the funding: The Palm Beach County Sports Commission is now working with the village and Bostic’s team to cover part of the cost of the basketball courts, Guerin said.
The village already committed to a $33 million bond issue to pay for the facility, with Bostic covering the balance. While village staff told the council Tuesday night they are moving forward with pursuing the bond issue, The Palm Beach Post last week reported that Bostic is ready to finance the entire project himself. While Bostic was there Tuesday night, he did not speak, and Guerin did not mention his plan to pay for the entire project. I reached out to Guerin for clarification.
The most recent cost estimate for construction is $34 million, Guerin said. Recent media reports and a tweet from Bostic put the cost at $38 million.
What’s the timeline?
Bostic’s team hopes to open the facility in August 2024 with a groundbreaking this August, Guerin said. “It’s an aggressive timeline,” she said.
Rex Kirby, president of Verdex Construction, said the team decided to use a pre-engineered structure, which should make the building process move along more quickly. The pieces are built and delivered to the work site, and by the time they arrive, the slab, foundation and anchor bolts are ready to go, Kirby said.
That would get the shell up within six months of the August 2024 opening date, to allow about five and a half months to complete the interiors, Kirby said. “We’re going to be hustling, but we can do it,” he said.
Mayor Anne Gerwig asked about the possibility of including a “tot lot,” or a place for smaller children to play. The site plan does not currently include that, Guerin said, adding that the property is “interesting-shaped” and fitting everything on the 17 acres is a challenge.
“The space is tight,” Guerin said.
Some of the facilities will be dedicated to public use, including the multi-use field and one of the basketball courts, said Wellington Assistant Village Manager Ed De La Vega.
The project would be one-of-a-kind for Palm Beach County, said sports commission Executive Director George Linley. “We don’t have a true sports center or a facility dedicated for sport use of this magnitude, so it would definitely open us up as a county to new markets from a sports tourism perspective,” he said.
The use of the colors blue and orange – representing the University of Florida Gators football team, for which Bostic played – did not go unrecognized by three members of the Village Council.
Councilmen Michael Napoleone and John McGovern went to UF, while Vice Mayor Michael Drahos went to the rival school, Florida State University.
“The orange and blue and Gators have to be a condition of approval,” Napoleone joked.
When Drahos jokingly protested the color choice, Guerin noted she also went to FSU. “It’s a tough pill to swallow,” she joked. “I’m getting over it, so I hope you can get there too.”
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