Mayor offers progress update on local indoor sports/aquatic center project

Mayor of Bardstown

Sunday, July 16, 2023 — The City of Bardstown has been working on a plan for an indoor sports and aquatic center since the Spring of 2021. We started by having a market and feasibility study performed by Pinnacle Indoor Sports.


This study was funded by the City, Nelson Co. Fiscal Court, and the Bardstown Industrial Development Corporation (BIDC). Pinnacle Indoor Sports is a consulting firm based in Louisville that has completed hundreds of feasibility studies and facility consultations around the country over the last 23 years. The City continues to employ Pinnacle as our main consultant for this project.

PLANNING AND DESIGN. The City Council approved an appropriation of $100,000 in fiscal year 2023 to hire an architect to start planning, designing, and fieldwork for a project like this on our City campus. We hired Luckett and Farley Architects out of Louisville. They are one of the most highly-respected architectural firms in Kentucky, with much experience in the design and construction of sports and aquatic centers. Luckett and Farley have been working on the planning and design for several months now.

FACILITY FEATURES AND PROGRAMMING. The City Council recently approved an additional appropriation of $75,000 in our fiscal year 2024 budget to continue work with Pinnacle Indoor Sports and with Luckett and Farley. The ultimate goal is to design a facility the City can afford, that provides as many programming options as are needed for our City and County. The facility would include three to four multipurpose gym spaces, with a raised indoor walking track. Programming would include basketball, volleyball, pickleball, cheerleading and cornhole. This space could also have the flexibility for use as a large event space. The City also has plans to design an indoor aquatics center. An aquatic center would be the most expensive part of the facility to build and operate. It would also lead to the closing of our outdoor pool, which is over 45 years old and in need of significant repairs. This is a very difficult decision that would have to be made, and one that could have a significant impact on the use of pool services in general and requires more study and thought.

COSTS & FUNDRAISING. A facility like this will cost $25-30 million dollars. So, the big question is how do we pay for such a facility? The answer is how much can we raise from the local community? And how much tax revenue can we generate to retire the debt and pay operating costs? We may have to build the project in phases and decide if we can really afford an indoor aquatics center. Recreational facilities like these do not make money for cities and counties.

SPORTS AND AQUATIC CENTERS IN OTHER COMMUNITIES. Other communities with these facilities have had major financial help from their community or earmarks from the state government. However, earmarks for projects like this are no longer available from the State. In addition, other nearby cities with aquatic centers have an insurance premium tax and occupational tax rates or proceeds much higher than ours. These taxes support their general funds, which pay for recreation in those cities. Bardstown does not have an insurance premium tax.

COUNTY COOPERATION. Judge Hutchins has been involved in some of our planning meetings for this facility. Both he and I want to see an indoor sports and aquatic center become a reality for our community. We have agreed to get the City and County to help on this project. We also plan to reach out to our corporate community for support, as other cities have done.

FUTURE PLANS. We are committed to getting a new indoor sports center built for Bardstown and Nelson County. Once we have the actual design and costs completed, we will start our effort to raise funds for this project. Once we know the total costs and public and private funding available upfront, we can then make the big decision on how to pay for the rest of the facility and its operating costs. I hope our community will step up to help us make this a reality.


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