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6 Investigates: References don’t check out for city sports complex developer

Posted: 2:57 PM, Jul 27, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-23 10:31:45-04

Back in May, KRIS 6 News told you about a deal with the City of Corpus Christi and SQH Sports. The City Council was close to leasing additional valuable city land to the group for just a $1 per year.

And at the time, SQH claimed to have extensive experience in San Antonio. It’s experience the company says it will use  to build a $25 million dollar sports complex, off the Crosstown Expressway.

KRIS 6 Investigates obtained a copy of an internal memo that listed SQH Sports’ experience in San Antonio, and vetted the information. This comes after 6 Investigates exposed past business dealings of company officials.

“We all generally know each other,” said Ben Hart, owner of Factory of Champions in San Antonio.

He’s owned the private gymnasium for the past five years, and described the youth sports community as a close-knit group.

The name of his business is listed as reference for SQH Sports on an internal memo for the city of Corpus Christi.

“I was surprised because I don’t know any of the names you mentioned to me,” Hart said.

SQH Sports also claimed to have experience as the original general manager of the S.T.A.R Soccer Complex on the north side of San Antonio.  A representative with the original owner said she had never heard of the project or the names of the owners, and added that the soccer facility was built and managed by the Gordon Hartman Foundation and later sold to the City of San Antonio.

Also on the list is the Denver Heights Community Center, which is owned by the city of San Antonio. A representative in the city’s HR department said none of the names of the developers KRIS 6 News provided had been employed by the city.

KRIS 6 News did not receive a response for two of the facilities listed – IronKids Triathlon in San Antonio or San Antonio Spurs summer camps.

“I don’t have any reason to believe it’s not true,” said E. Jay Ellington, director of Corpus Christi Parks & Recreation, when asked if he had vetted the list. He had not.

Ellington said the company has never built or managed a sports complex, but instead assembled a team of people to help with the project.

“…They may have talked to some of those people about future employment…or consulting with them in some manner,” he said.

The City Council is expected to revisit the contract later this month.

And there are concerns about the company’s lack of a track record.

“I would feel more comfortable if we were dealing with more seasoned development team that had a track record of the kinds of projects that this would represent,” Lindsey-Opel said.

The lease agreement with the developer requires one more public vote before its finalized. The city council is expected to take up the issue again at the end of this month.

A representative with SQH Sports responded to questions sent last week from KRIS 6 News. The information listed in that city memo has incorrect wording, according to Melissa Welch-Lamoreaux. The experience is not for the owners of the company, but rather its management team.

The names of the individuals with the experience at Factory of Champions, STARR, etc are listed in that original RFP—but the names need to remain confidential, as should the RFP, since it’s a competitive bidding process. If you had the names of these highly-qualified professionals to vet with the owners at the respective complexes that you filmed/interviewed, you would have received a completely different response.