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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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Developers Would Hasten the Pace in the Race to Build Sports Complex

Developers Would Hasten the Pace in the Race to Build Sports Complex

By Christopher South

A rendering of the proposed sports complex to be constructed at the Cape May County Airport. Developers hope to start on it after the summer.
Rendering provided
A rendering of the proposed sports complex to be constructed at the Cape May County Airport. Developers hope to start on it after the summer.

ERMA – The proposed Aviation Sports Complex at the Cape May County Airport is moving along, but not as fast as developers Bob Buglak and Jamie Sutton would like, and nowhere near the speed at which Buglak’s mind works in imagining what the 80,000-square-foot facility will provide.

Buglak can imagine Division I universities using the facility for sporting events and tournaments. He said he and Sutton already have commitments from the University of Arizona, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Portland to engage in basketball, softball and coaching clinics.

He said they also have commitments or interest in using the facility for jujitsu, dance and CPR classes. A group called Simon’s Heart out of Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, whose goal is to prevent sudden cardiac arrest in children, would provide CPR classes free of charge.

He said they have spoken to SALA – the Scholar Athletes Leadership Academy, located in Pittman, and to local schools superintendents, discussing sporting events for kids with special needs.

Buglak also talked about working with existing businesses that use the airport and about developing other businesses, such as a private pilot program. He is even thinking about setting up real estate or financing information tables at the sports center’s estimated 15,000-square-foot welcome center.

He has so many ideas it’s hard to contain them, yet he has to be realistic.

“We’re progressing slower than we would like, but we’re coming along pretty good,” he said.

According to Buglak, he and project partner Jamie Sutton had to go back to the Delaware River and Bay Authority and work out some of the terms of their leasing agreement with the authority.

He said the parties have agreed in concept to a 10-year lease with multiple five-year renewals, and that the DRBA Board of Commissioners could approve the lease at its July 16 meeting. After that, Buglak hopes to be on the August schedule for the Lower Township Planning Board and to begin construction after the summer.

He said Aviation Sports Complex has had surveyors at the site, they are having water testing performed, and they have begun site planning, which he would like to present in August. He said there is also behind-the-scenes work being done, such as setting up a website and working out commitments with organizations, contingent on the completion of the facility. They are also meeting with builders and are speaking to food and beverage providers.

“Each day we get a call from someone about something,” Buglak said. “We’re talking to a medical team to create an onsite urgent care sort of thing.”

He said there is a lot to do in the next 30 to 60 days. He said they have talked to Amazon and Apple regarding sports analytics that collect data they can provide to coaches and parents about the young athletes’ speed, performance and ability. He said that between the medical team and the analytics, they could, for example, provide coaches with information about possible health issues.

Buglak sees the sports complex as a win-win for the community. He said he believes the events they hold could help the airport in terms of increased traffic, and businesses located at the airport would also benefit.

He said they would be able to provide tournaments at times of the year when families might not normally visit Cape May County.

“The average person staying overnight here is spending $369,” he said. “What would happen if you could get a family for a weekend?”

Buglak said there would be a 30- to 90-day window for building and shipping the dome for the sports complex, which is back up to 80,000 square feet. Earlier, the project was being downsized due to the limits of the site that was proposed. He said they have moved the site, from being across from the Cape May Brewing Co. building to closer to the water tower.

“We have close to 7 acres available to us,” he said. “Perhaps they will allow us to go a little larger if we want to, but we’re waiting on plans for 80,000.”

Call Christopher South at 609-886-8600 x-128 or email csouth@cmcherald.com.

Reporter

Christopher South is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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