CHESTERFIELD • The city has given preliminary approval to a deal that could add a monumental domed sports facility in the fast-growing retail hub paralleling Highway 40.
St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny and nonprofit executive Dan Buck head the investment group proposing the construction of the “Chesterfield Dome Complex” on 30 acres along North Outer 40 Road.
“They want to create the largest indoor sports facility in North America,” said Chesterfield City Director Mike Geisel.
Chesterfield Mayor Bob Nation said Thursday that city officials have been quietly negotiating with the Buck and Matheny investment and management groups since early this year. The discussions have been held in closed meetings.
Those negotiations surfaced Wednesday at a City Council meeting with the public disclosure of a “letter of intent” that will allow development of a project with an estimated price tag of $36 million to $42 million to move forward.
Geisel estimated construction on the complex could begin within 18 months. The facility could be open to the public as early as 2018.
The plans submitted to the city call for the construction of a dome with multiple playing fields capable of hosting simultaneous baseball, basketball, volleyball, softball and football games.
The athletic functions would represent one component of a massive campus with 50,000 square feet of office space and a 40,000-square-foot education center, a 220-room hotel, restaurants, retail outlets, an urgent care facility, fitness center, zip lines and a climbing wall.
Under the Buck and Matheny business plan, the nonprofit athletic facilities will be supported by the hotel, restaurants, fitness center and other for-profit enterprises.
Big Sports Properties LLC, the nonprofit BASE Foundation and the Buck Innovation Group LLC — led by Buck and Matheny — are listed as the developers of a project that is to rise on 30 city-owned acres east of the Chesterfield Valley Athletic Complex.
A onetime St. Louis television anchor, Buck moved from broadcasting to the nonprofit sector as chief executive officer of the St. Patrick Center and then vice president of philanthropy for SSM Health Care.
Buck left SSM in 2015 to start an independent consulting group.
Neither Buck nor Matheny could be reached for comment Thursday night.
The terms of the proposed agreement between the city and Big Sports Properties places the burden of $4 million in infrastructure improvements on the developer.
Geisel emphasized that no city money will be used in the development and operation of the dome complex.
The city director said discussions are underway to work out terms of a 50-year agreement on the 30-acre tract for lease payments that could ultimately deposit $250,000 annually in Chesterfield coffers.
“Chesterfield would have no expenses — this would be a revenue generator for us,” Geisel said.
Big Sports Properties and Chesterfield have until mid-January to finalize the lease details.
The city on Sept. 29 also signed an agreement to spend $2 million to buy 22 acres adjacent to the dome complex.
That property is to be developed as a separate outdoor facility to accommodate baseball, softball and sand volleyball games.
This is not the first time developers have envisioned a sports complex rising on the real estate where Chesterfield Dome Complex and the adjacent city project may soon take shape next to Highway 40.
Bracketed by a pair of outlet malls, the site is within minutes of the major retail corridor nurtured and developed by Chesterfield in the quarter century since the 1993 flood.
Two years ago, a Kansas City developer proposed to build a soccer and hotel complex to host youth tournaments drawing teams from across the Midwest.
When St. Louis County balked at paying the cost of infrastructure, developer David Thorman moved the project across the Mississippi River to Belleville.
Thorman died this summer.
The county is in the process of constructing a destination youth soccer complex at Creve Coeur Park.
Mary Shapiro, special to the Post-Dispatch, contributed to this report.