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City moving on from Southside sports complex

Posted at 5:51 PM, Feb 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-12 00:19:38-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The development company that wanted to build a sports complex on the city’s south side has finally struck out with the city.

Last month, SQH Sports and Entertainment missed a deadline to prove it could fund that complex.

That triggered a 30-day grace period, which expired Monday. SQH had until 5 p.m. to submit its proof of funding. That proof was hand-delivered to the city manager’s office at 5:10 p.m.

“It was one sheet of paper with some questionable information on there,” said Corpus Christi City Manager Peter Zanoni.

Zanoni's questions included who was partnering with SQH. Nobody at City Hall had heard of the company, Comandante Holdings, LLC. There were also questions about dates and signatures.

“There were several inconsistencies or irregularities on that one-page letter,” he said.

The city sent SQH’s letter to its financial adviser. SQH and its credentials were questioned as part of a ‘6 Investigates’ report in 2018. Former city councilwoman Debbie Lindsey-Opel was among the deal's chief critics at that time.

“If we've learned one thing from this particular process it's that we need to get a better process of how we vet these projects,” said Lindsey-Opel, who was impressed by the new contract Zanoni helped draw up with SQH.

“That contract was a breath of fresh air,” said Lindsey-Opel. “When you looked at it, it had definitive milestones, and they were very business-oriented, they weren't exorbitant demands.”

The original lease agreement between the city and SQH was approved in 2016. In 2018, SQH told the city it wanted to lease more land for the complex. Despite the irregularities, many believed a sports complex would have been great for the city.

“It would be a wonderful thing for Corpus Christi if we could have gotten it done,” said District 3 City Councilman Roland Barrera. “It would be great for youth sports, but apparently we're not there.”

The complex would have gone along the Crosstown extension near FM 43 in District 3. Barrera believes a sports complex would have made club sports more accessible for local student-athletes.

“It's not the club dues that are expensive, it's the traveling, having to go to different tournaments in major metropolitan areas,” said Barrera, who has been heavily involved in youth sports.

Zanoni said the city’s Bond 2020 proposal will include money to improve the city's existing facilities. He added if another, more qualified developer wanted to pursue this project, they would have to prove to the city they can deliver.

Barrera said the city will look at other uses for the land. He believes retail space, or a housing development, are potential options.

Meanwhile, SQH's PR person says the firm is disappointed, but is moving on.