Could Legacy Sports Tennessee be the next Bible Park USA?

Dec 10, 2021 at 09:45 am by Michelle Willard

Chad Miller, CEO of Legacy Sports, makes announcement for $350 million, 260-plus acre, multi-use family sports, and entertainment complex in Murfreesboro’s City Hall Rotunda.
Chad Miller, CEO of Legacy Sports, makes announcement for $350 million, 260-plus acre, multi-use family sports, and entertainment complex in Murfreesboro’s City Hall Rotunda. (Jim Davis/City of Murfreesboro)

Legacy Sports Tennessee announced Thursday, Dec. 10 it plans to build a "sports and entertainment destination for not only those in Middle Tennessee; it will attract visitors from throughout the entire country," the City of Murfreesboro said in a press release.

Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland touted the announcement saying, the $350 million, 260-plus acre, multi-use family sports, and entertainment complex will feature state-of-the-art indoor and outdoor athletic facilities for numerous recreational and professional sports. The Legacy Sports Tennessee facility will also feature a 6,000-seat arena, an outdoor amphitheater to host special events, a performance fitness and wellness center, multi-use gaming and arcade facility, an e-sports gaming center, as well as multiple entertainment and retail options that will include concerts, shopping, restaurants and more.

As described, it could also be called "Sports Park USA" in homage to the failed Bible Park USA fiasco of 2007.

The background: Bible Park USA was also announced in 2007 with much fanfare and claims that it would attract millions of visitors from across the country to experience the wonders of the Bible right here in Middle Tennessee. These imaginary people would also spend millions of tourist dollars right here at local businesses. Proposed by developer Armon Bar-Tur from SafeHarbor Holding, Bible Park USA was narrowly denied in a 12-9 vote by the Rutherford County Commission after an extensive public hearing that saw neighbors express concerns about everything from traffic to terrorism. After the Bible Park debacle, the Shelton family, the owners of the land for the proposed park, sued Rutherford County for its denial of the project. The Tennessee Appellate Court upheld a ruling in favor of the Sheltons in 2009 while a federal lawsuit was eventually dismissed in 2011. The Shelton family farm is now a subdivision, as we do.

Is Legacy Sports USA more reputable than SafeHarbor Holding? They've already built something similar, even if it hasn't opened yet. The company are the developers of Bell Bank Park in Mesa (Phoenix), Ariz., a 320-acre, multi-use family sports and entertainment complex set to open in January 2022. 

Bell Bank Park features a 3,000-seat outdoor stadium, eSports arena, indoor arena, soccer/lacrosse/football fields (just what we need, more soccer fields), indoor volleyball courts, baseball and softball fields, basketball courts, pickleball courts, beach volleyball courts, an Obstacle Course Racing Park, futsal courts, a Gymnastics Center, Dance Studio, Cheer Center, Sports Performance Center, Family Fitness Center, Wellness Center, Kids Play Center, 2.7 acre Great Lawn for concerts and events, 17,000 square foot Sports Restaurant and Bar and so much more.

According to local news reports, Bell Bank Park has dozens of annual events on its books already, including an annual event from the Association of Pickleball Professionals Tour. 

"With numerous playing fields, Bell Bank Park serves as a central hub for professional, club, and recreation competition at various levels of expertise and proficiency. The park is geared toward both high-energy entertainment and sports. Bell Bank Park also expands beyond sports by creating festivals, signature experiences, and live concerts that feature national touring acts," according to the press release.

Like Bell Bank Park, Legacy Sports USA is projected to host more than 3 million visitors annually to Middle Tennessee and generate tens of millions of dollars in economic impact back to the local community, with an estimated hundreds of millions of dollars expected to be spent throughout the state of Tennessee each year, said Chad Miller, CEO of Legacy Sports USA.

“We will complete a full economic impact plan to state and local officials once we have finalized all elements of the project, but based on our numbers for Bell Bank Park, we are confident that this will be a huge economic boost to Rutherford County and the State of Tennessee,” Miller said. 

But if memory serves, SafeHarbor Holding made similar promises. It had also built a yet-to-be-opened theme park when proposing Bible Park USA. Called Hard Rock Park in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, it opened on April 15, 2008, right in the middle of our public debate about the Bible Park. Hard Rock Park had closed by September 2008, due to financial issues and, missing attendance projections. It reopened in May 2009, under the name "Freestyle Music Park," but closed again after the 2009 season due to financial issues and lawsuits that were filed against the park and never reopened.

Rutherford County dodged a bullet with Bible Park USA. Hopefully Sports Park USA is a little more financially sound.

More about Legacy Sports Tennessee

From the press release:

The proposed site is adjacent to I-840 and runs along N.W. Broad Street or Nashville Highway, with tentative plans to break ground in the second half of 2022, with a potential 2024 grand opening.

Legacy Sports Tennessee will be one of the largest multipurpose sports and entertainment complexes in North America, just behind Bell Bank Park. The goal is to provide athletic competition and entertainment to facilitate physical and mental wellness. Upon its proposed opening in 2024, Legacy Sports Tennessee will also feature a multipurpose ice arena and an outdoor great lawn for concerts and events. The broad range of sports that will be hosted at Legacy Sports Tennessee will include baseball, basketball, cheer, dance, esports, family fitness, football, futsal, gymnastics, hockey, lacrosse, obstacle course racing, pickleball, recreational sports, soccer, softball, volleyball and youth camps.

“As a mayor enthusiastic about youth sports and active adulthood, I could not be more excited to welcome Legacy Sports Tennessee to the City of Murfreesboro, a community steeped in sports and athletic facilities for all ages and abilities,” said Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland. “We are delighted that Legacy Sports Tennessee has committed to this substantial investment in our city with an enterprising vision, family-oriented philosophy, and entertaining activities for all.”

Legacy Sports USA is the vision of Randy J. Miller, Chairman of Legacy Sports USA, Chad J. Miller, CEO of Legacy Sports USA, and Olympic gold medalist Dan O’Brien, Director of Performance Training at Bell Bank Park. Legacy Sports USA is dedicated to hosting premier tournaments and events for youth sports and offering opportunities for athletes of all ages and at all levels to develop skills and enjoy training and competition.


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