New IMG multi-sport complex could have big impact

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BRADENTON, Fla. - IMG Academy is expanding, and ground was broken at the Bradenton facility Wednesday on a new multi-sport complex. And those in the community say it's bound to have a very positive impact on the local economy.

The move will not just create hundreds of jobs, but also generate millions of dollars for the community.

"This fall, in August, we will open our primary stadium. We’ll start with 5,000 seats, it’s built to be able to accommodate 10,000 or more. We'll have an 8-lane, 400-meter track to train on, which will also accommodate the jumps, the throws,” said Greg Phillips, vice president and athletics director for IMG.

And the list of features in the new multi-sports complex includes a baseball facility as another major highlight. But officials say the $14 million construction project is much more than a vision for a bright future at the school and its athletes. "We've had a lot of success, fortunately, in the growth of our full-time program, our camps, and now with the pro teams that we're bringing in. With everything that we’re doing, this facility gives us the chance to go even further with what we’re doing, not only for our students athletes, but also for the community," said Phillips

And according to IMG officials, that growth translates to millions of dollars in revenue for the city of Bradenton and Manatee County. "In 2010 our annual economic impact was approximately $180 million per year…right now we are over $517 million, so you can see the growth," said IMG’s Chip McCarthy.

And Sharon Hillstrom from the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation says that money has definitely been trickling down. "The multiplier effect for IMG Academy is significant. The events they have bring in visitors from all over the world. They come here and see what we have to offer, they go out to eat, they buy houses, some of them even bring their businesses here."

In addition to the economic impact, officials say the new sports complex will help attract worldwide attention to the area. "The global attention that IMG brings to the Bradenton area is significant. Our tag line is ‘think global, think Bradenton area’, so this certainly provides creditability to that tag line."