In voting to spend more than $26.78 million to cover EpiCenter’s operating expenses during its first years of existence, county commissioners said the $120 million project would ultimately be a boon to Fort Bend County.
“This will be an asset to Fort Bend County,” Precinct 1 Commissioner Vincent Morales said, following a 4-0 vote. “It will cover itself.”
But what are those benefits? And how are county leaders paying for the project?
Several months before commissioners unanimously approved a resolution to begin the project, developers in November 2020 unveiled project details that included a description of how the county could pursue the project and how much money they thought the facility might bring in.
Between sports and events rentals, advertising and sponsorship agreements, parking and more, the county might expect to make about $3.65 million from the facility starting in the first year, according to a presentation provided by Stonehenge Holdings, a Sugar Land-based commercial real estate company.
The county should also expect to pay about $2.18 million in operating expenses in the first year, according to the same presentation.
Developers estimated the facility would host about 84 events in its first year, with that number increasing each year the venue exists afterward, according to the presentation.
The facility will sit on a 51.75-acre site near the southwest corner of State Highway 59 and State Highway 36 in Rosenberg, near the site of the county fairgrounds.
County officials estimate the total cost of the project will be about $120 million.
County officials have been mulling such a project since as early as 2015, when commissioners were considering proposals for a facilities bond election. The court authorized a feasibility study that ended in 2018.
Under the agreement for the venue, the county will lease the property to a developer that will construct EpiCenter and lease the building back to the county. The county will retain ownership of the land and will own the building when its debt is paid.
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