FORT WORTH-A newly forged alliance to develop sports and entertainment complexes worldwide has a project in the making in the Mid Cities-Fort Worth area. The alliance teams four-time NBA All-Star Rolando Blackman and his partner with RTKL Associates Inc. and G2 Strategic LLC.

Louis Cunningham, partner in Irving, TX-based Blackman Cunningham, tells that talks have begun with investors to develop a basketball and volleyball training center, conceivably a prototype for smaller venues that are part of the alliance’s urban development model. If the project becomes reality, its programs will be aimed at middle school, high school and college athletes to hone their skills on the courts. Cunningham says the plan also calls for programs with times and skill levels that are conducive to business people interested in fitness and agility.

The site has yet to go under contract, but Cunningham vows it will become a reality–and perhaps in the not too distant future. Meanwhile, partners from RTKL and G2 Strategic are in Europe to mine larger projects for the alliance, according to Cunningham. The US, Europe, South America and Asia are on the alliance’s itinerary. And, he adds, there are several deals under negotiation although he can’t go into detail.

The alliance officially rolled out the door earlier this week, with its first project in Panama. Cunningham says the 400-acre Roberto Duran Stadium has been mapped out for a major overhaul along with surrounding land to create a sports and entertainment complex as an economic engine for Panama City. He says the plan is awaiting government approval.

“We’re not just using Rolando’s name,” Cunningham stresses, pointing out the NBA star has input in design. “He’s heard complaints to compliments and knows what patrons have come to expect and knows what athletes have come to expect. And, he knows what sponsors have come expect.”

Blackman Cunningham’s role is marketing to investors, developers, club owners and communities. Also, Cunningham says several pitches have been made to select equity firms to lock in a primary backer, but so far no one has stepped up.

According to Cunningham, the top-ranked trio spent one year mulling over the alliance. RTKL design pioneer, Ron Turner in Los Angeles, and Boston-based G2 Strategic CEO Marshall Glickman are co-leading the team.

Turner’s track record includes Staples Center in Los Angeles, Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Saitama Super Arena in Japan and David Beckham Academy in London while RTKL masterminded the urban footprint for Camden Yards in Baltimore. Glickman oversaw the $262-million Rose Quarter in Portland, OR, and $38-million overhaul of PGE Park and partnered with RTKL to develop the master plan for the proposed Moscow Sports & Entertainment complex.

Cunningham likens the alliance’s scope to what has evolved with American Airlines Center’s Victory neighborhood in Dallas and Glorypark, which will surround Rangers Field in Arlington, TX. But, neither project started out with a comprehensive mixed-use vision and it took years to get moving after plans started to gel. “I think heretofore, where these arenas have been the focal point [for a community], it was more happenstance than by design,” Cunningham says. “The arena was put down and development came up around it. We’re flipping that around and looking at it as an economic engine for what’s around it.”

In a release about the alliance, Glickman says there has been “an explosion in venue development activity” in the past 15 to 20 years in the US. He adds that a similar pattern is predicted to emerge in Europe, Asia and South America.

“When venues are simply dropped into a pre-existing district, this inevitably results in negative outcomes,” Turner says in the release. “These venues should fit seamlessly into the contexts of their neighborhoods.” And, he adds, the alliance represents “a potent combination” skill levels to aid municipalities, owners and private developers with urban development. “Over the years, I have learned that design is inextricably linked to economics, financing structures, public/private partnerships and market-specific characteristics,” he says.

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