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Windsor Locks votes in favor of proposed sports complex

WINSDOR LOCKS — The votes are in! 969-719 Windsor Locks residents voted in favor of the on the referendum vote on the proposed multi-million dollar sports...

WINSDOR LOCKS -- The votes are in! 969-719 Windsor Locks residents voted in favor of the on the referendum vote on the proposed multi-million dollar sports complex.

“It really is going to be a winner for the town,” said Christine Vincent.

Approximately 20% of Windsor Locks residents cast their votes for the proposed Champions Landing East Tax Increment Financial District or TIF and adopt a plan to build the “All Sports Village” being recommended by the town zoning and planning commission as well as the board of selectman.

"The Town of Windsor Locks is NOT funding any part of the cost to build All Sports Village.  The TIF district passed yesterday allows the developer to defer some of the real estate taxes on the sports complex to incentivize the development. The Town will receive at least a million dollars in new taxes. The Town will not provide any funding for the project.  A TIF is no more than a tool similar to a tax abatement, which encourages business to come to Windsor Locks with their projects,” said a representative of All Sports Village in an email.

At one point as many as 300 voters turned out in an hour causing a shortage of ballets multiple times at Windsor Locks High School.

"It’s been exciting just to see the amount of people that come out,” said Democratic Registrar of Voters John Ferrari. “That’s a good feeling no matter which way they wanted it to go with us. They at least took a stand and came out to vote.”

The results were counted by hand resulting in a 57% in favor from voters.

“It’s a lot of revenue for our town and our town needs something like this,” said Nielsa Cerpikowski

“Jobs. Everybody needs jobs,” said Michael Francis Gentiley Jr.

The $213 million-dollar complex proposed by JABS Sports Management includes a 5,500- seat outdoor soccer stadium, 16 indoor courts, eight outdoor fields, dorms, hotels, shopping and more.

Developers say it will create 344 jobs. At least 86 of which will be filled by Windsor Locks residents.

The town will fund part of the cost to build the private venue and then once the job is complete JABS Sports will pay them back with increased tax revenue. Opponents believe the proposal is misleading.

“I think it’s going to end up costing us more money than it’s worth,” said John Ratcliffe. “I’d rather have them fix the roads into town. Fix up the existing parks that are already here.”

While others believe it will have a trickle-down effect on local business.

“Have an open mind about it,” said Mark Whitten. “The town has been how it’s been for a long time and it’s OK to have new things.”

Today’s vote is not the end of the debate. There will be more hurdles for officials to clear before ground can be broken on the one-of-a-kind facility, but for now residents are happy with the progress.