HAINES CITY — On Friday, Dec. 13, the Feltrim Group will hold a ribbon cutting celebration for the grand opening of its Feltrim Sports Village project.
Located within Feltrim’s Balmoral Resort, in Haines City just southeast of the intersection of U.S. Highway 27 and U.S. Highway 17-92, the facility will debut with a stadium with a championship-level turf field and an additional full-size turf practice field.
The ribbon cutting is scheduled for 3:30 p.m., with a Winter Street Festival open to the public to follow at 6 p.m. Feltrim staff say the festival will include live music, inflatables, face-painting and plenty more activities for area families.
The final component of the Feltrim Sports Village’s Phase One — there are three planned phases, total — will be a sand volleyball complex with 10 courts.
The facility will play host to myriad events, including youth and teen travel sports events, as well as a soccer academy.
As Feltrim Group CEO Garrett Kenny and COO Mike Botkin explain it, having a first-class sports facility within their existing vacation home resort creates an opportunity for a better travel sports experience.
“People are traveling for sports events and the biggest pain in the neck is the logistics and travel between your hotel and the event,” explained Botkin. “For us to put it all on one location, we’re removing the barriers. We’re making the experience better.”
Already, Botkin says, the facility has booked a number of sports event. It has already hosted a quarterback event with Orlando-area quarterback guru Baylin Trujillo, and on Dec. 15 the Feltrim Sports Village will host the AAU Football National Championships.
Later this month, the facility will host a high school football all-star game pitting standouts from Florida and Georgia against one another and, on Dec. 26 and Dec. 27, Feltrim Sports will host a soccer camp for local residents.
Kenny, who has been doing development in Central Florida — and particularly Polk County — for more than two decades says it is important to him that the facility be a positive for local youth and teen athletes as well as those who will visit from outside the area.
“We’re here for city of Haines City, as well,” Kenny said.
In fact, Botkin says the soccer academy will be geared toward youth and teen athletes within the driving distance of the facility.
Later phases of the Feltrim Sports Village include a 60,000 square-foot sports arena and a charter high school, hopefully to open in 2021.
Both Kenny and Botkin said they do not intend for the school to become similar to IMG Academy, a private school on Florida’s west coast. Instead, they intend for it to a public charter school operating within the umbrella of Polk County Public Schools.
“I want local students to benefit,” Kenny said.
Feltrim staff hope that the process for the school, which they intend to name the Feltrim School, will begin in January. If the approval process goes as planned, it would be open in time for the 2021-22 school year. The intended student body size is between 600 and 800 students.
In addition to the more traditional sports event Feltrim Sports Village has already booked, Botkin said it has been chosen to host regional and state competitions for US Quidditch — the sport popularly associated with the Harry Potter books and films — as well as cornhole.
“To dip into the non-traditional market is really cool for us,” Botkin said.
As for Kenny, the native of Ireland says this project is his latest in Polk County and he has been excited to see the growth — particularly in east Polk, along the U.S. 27 corridor — since he formed the Feltrim Group in 1996.
“I’ve seen tremendous growth,” Kenny said. “My god, I have seen rooftops mushroom up and down the U.S. 27. Things are happening in Polk.”
For more information on Feltrim Sports Village, visit feltrimsports.com.