Indiana city plans to acquire declining mall for sports tourism development
As malls are struggling to thrive across the country, a southern Indiana city has proposed a sports tourism project to recover the dwindling indoor mall. The City of Columbus has reached an agreement to purchase a nearly three-decade-old mall from the owner of the Fair Oaks Mall for $6 million, according to a report from The Associated Press.
The $5.9 million deal to buy the 35-acre property and launch a sports complex at the shopping mall is expected to be finalized by the end of 2018. Economic challenges in a national retail industry have been brought up and addressed when the customer traffic has declined dramatically in recent years.
In efforts to enhance visitors’ experience, the city and other partners (Columbus Regional Health and the Heritage Fund) want to add a year-round community recreational center and sports tourism complex in the mall, where visitors would participate in some form of athletic activities and games, such as softball, soccer, and volleyball. Turf fields and wood courts could be placed within the retail space.
“When this opportunity presented itself and the project began to take shape, we decide to call on a few of our trusted partners to help make this happen,” Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop said in a press release, obtained by CBS Indy 4. “Columbus enjoys a legacy as a community that works together to tackle not only our needs, but our aspirations, and this project is no different.”
Conventions or fairs could be held at the mall as well.
Sports tourism has been important to economic development in Columbus. Erin Hawkins, a director of marketing at the Columbus Area Visitors Center, noted that almost 170,000 visitors spent approximately $12 million on sporting events in the greater Columbus area in 2017. The city generated most of that money that tourists spent on summer events.
Fair Oaks Mall was established in 1990.
Photo: Fair Oaks Mall (via Veritas Realty)