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Securing Kidsports’ Future

By Beacon Staff

A prime piece of real estate in the heart of Kalispell’s north business district is up for grabs and could play a pivotal role in the future of Kidsports Complex.

The state’s Northwest Land Office announced the availability of 28 acres adjacent to Kidsports for commercial development. The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation requested proposals from interested developers through Sept. 5. The acreage, called Victory Commons and located on the corner of U.S. Highway 93 and Reserve Loop, is state-owned school trust land and could only be leased.

“Our goal is to find a commercial planner/developer that will help us develop this unique parcel to its full potential,” the DNRC’s request for proposal stated.

Successfully finding a suitor would bring Kalispell’s popular sports complex a giant step closer to securing a permanent easement and cementing its place in the community.

The Kidsports organization, a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) that manages the 138-acre public-use property, faces skyrocketing lease payments in the coming years because the land value has significantly increased. Kidsports is unlikely to be able to afford higher lease payments in the future, which led to the pursuit of the permanent easement.

After a new appraisal of Kidsports’ property, the DNRC estimated the one-time cost for a permanent easement to be roughly $2.4 million. Mike Collins, head of the Northwest Land Office’s trust land management program, said negotiations are underway over how long Kidsports would have to raise the necessary funds. It would be at least a couple years, he said.

A developer of Victory Commons could help provide a solid base propelling Kidsports’ fundraising efforts. A developer would have to negotiate a price to use a 13-acre section of the Victory Commons land that would be detached from Kidsports for commercial use.

Created in 1999, the youth athletic complex frequently attracts tournaments and teams from across the Pacific Northwest. On any given day in the summer, an average of 5,350 people use the fields during the week and another 5,000 on the weekend, according to a survey the organization conducted in late 2010. On weekends during September and October the complex draws an average of 7,000 people.

Eight local organizations with almost 500 kids are based there, including Kalispell Pee Wee and Babe Ruth baseball, the Flathead Soccer Club, Kalispell Youth Softball Association and Flathead Valley Little Guy Football.

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