Austin Peay State University Governors basketball will have a new home in the downtown Clarksville multipurpose events center when it opens in the fall of 2022.
Friday morning in a signing ceremony at the Govs’ current home in the Dunn Center on campus, APSU and Montgomery County Government formalized the 30-year lease for Clarksville’s signature university to use the county’s new MPEC once it’s built.
The lease will provide space for the Austin Peay men’s and women’s basketball programs, including coach and assistant coach offices, locker rooms, practice facilities and game-day facilities.
The view from First and Main Street of the planned downtown Clarksville Multipurpose Event Center. (Photo: Contributed/Rufus Johnson Associates)
Interim APSU President Dannelle Whiteside and Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett signed the agreement in an event that was streamed virtually.
The MPEC, a 250,000-square-foot, multi-level event facility in the heart of downtown Clarksville, is scheduled to open fall 2022. The demolition of older buildings on the site began in early August 2020.
Whiteside said the campus and downtown community are growing closer with the school now occupying 11 acres formerly held by the Jenkins & Wynne car dealership, including the addition of the Ann Ross Bookstore on College Street — and now across Second Street comes the MPEC partnership.
“Today through this lease agreement, we are bringing Austin Peay directly into the local community,” Whiteside said, “and meeting the challenge of providing a superb athlete and fan experience.
Durrett recalled that Nashville Predators President Sean Henry once told him that, “for this (MPEC) to work, the local university has to be a part of it”. The Predators (Powers Management) will manage the MPEC.
“Today, we further solidify our partnership with Austin Peay State University,” Durrett said.
Using a basketball analogy, Durrett praised Whiteside and the APSU administration for picking up the ball on the MPEC after the departure of former APSU President Alisa White … “and today she’s going to carry the ball down the court and dunk it,” Durrett said, referencing the final deal signatures.
Durrett said the journey to an MPEC association with APSU began in 2015 in talks with White.
Gerald Harrison, APSU director of athletics, called Friday a “transformative day for Austin Peay athletics, specifically our men’s and women’s basketball programs.
“In the fall of 2022, we will definitely have the best basketball facilities in the Ohio Valley Conference, and really in the region,” Harrison said.
About the MPEC
Utility relocation is underway at First, Second, Main and College streets. Excavation work should begin by the middle of this month, Durrett said.
While the county’s spending cap for this sports-and-entertainment-oriented facility has been quoted often by Durrett at $105 million, including the property which is already purchased, the $130.7 million in general obligation bonds set aside by the county commission to pay for it leaves considerably more spending room to cover what Durrett has called “worst-case scenario” indebtedness.
The Durrett administration has been striving to time the bond market for maximum return on investment and is expected to sell the bonds on Monday.
Durrett has also maintained that his pre-identified-and-calculated, designated revenue streams will easily cover the cost of the MPEC without burdening Montgomery County property taxpayers.
The revenue streams that Durrett has identified for the MPEC are mostly exclusive to the MPEC and couldn’t be generated or used elsewhere, anyway, he emphasizes.
Those revenue streams are:
- The hotel motel/tax
- A facility seat user fee
- Sales tax generated within the facility
- Funding generated from selling the naming rights to the facility
- A facility tenant fee
- A portion of the payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTS) that a number of new companies in the area are scheduled to begin paying in the next few years
- Internet sales taxes resulting from Montgomery County online commerce
Here’s how the $130.7 million MPEC bond issue is broken down:
- The project fund at $120 million represents total funds available to build the MPEC and pay off the bond anticipation note.
- Also included in the $130.7 million is the capitalized interest fund at close to $7 million.
- Durrett said capitalized interest is a portion of the proceeds of a bond issue that is set aside to pay interest on the securities for a specified period of time.
- The third consideration within the $130.7 million bond issue is underwriter and costs of issuance at close to $1.4 million.
- The MPEC is to be managed by Powers Management (the Nashville Predators), and Austin Peay State University is to be lead tenant, moving its home games for Governors basketball to the MPEC main arena.
When the MPEC happens as planned, there is another private business component to bear in mind.
Clarksville businessman Charles Hand, the local Hand family patriarch, said there are still plans in the works for a makeover and re-branding of the current Riverview Inn hotel near the MPEC site as a Hilton property, as well as adding some restaurant and retail tenants along property between the hotel and MPEC site — all foretold months back as part of a $50 million combined effort.
Reach Jimmy Settle at [email protected] or 931-245-0247.
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