MARSHALL - It all hinges on the November local sales tax vote, but Marshall's largest employer on Tuesday said it intends on donating roughly 16 acres of land north of the former DAC building at the intersection of Minnesota highways 23 and 19 for the proposed $12.9 million amateur sports complex.
The Schwan Food Co. Senior Director of Facility Management and Real Estate Jeff Thompson, who has been involved with the project in various capacities since its inception in 2008, said Schwan is behind the complex 100 percent.
"The Schwan Food Co. is very supportive of the project," said Thompson, who also sits on the Southwest Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission Board. "We've acted as a conduit between various groups that have been involved in the efforts to pursue a regional amateur sports facility, so we're pretty excited about projects like this that make Marshall and southwest Minnesota a destination point.
"There's a potential for a tremendous amount of boosting of the local economy through economic development and ultimately enhancing the quality of life for Marshall residents," he added.
Schwan bought the 160 acres of farmland in the spring of 2003 to clear the way for the construction of the new high school and infrastructure of what is now Tiger Drive.
The 16 acres of land that would be designated for the proposed sports complex is adjacent to the high school and sits directly north of the former DAC building, which Schwan had demolished in December.
Thompson said not only was that building vacant, it had taken on a good amount of hail and water damage from the July 1 storm. Plus, he said, the design of the building "really didn't fit in well with the aesthetics of the complex and the high school that is present today."
The city of Marshall brought the land up to grade with fill from dirt taken from the Tiger Lake expansion.
The city of Marshall requested $4 million in state bonding dollars this year for the sports complex, a request that was denied in 2010 and left off Gov. Mark Dayton's bonding recommendations earlier this year.
The complex would have two sheets of ice that could be converted for other sporting events, as well as soccer and softball fields.
Besides the .5 percent local sales tax that would go to help cover capital construction costs for the sports facility and MERIT Center expansion, there will also be a 1.5 percent "hospitality tax" on sales of prepared food, beverages and lodging to help offset future operating costs of the sports complex. The state approved that in 2010.
"Ultimately, it's up to the community as a whole to decide whether or not the project moves forward," Thompson said. "The company will support and respect the decision of the Marshall voters."
Marshall was designated a regional sports center in 2008. There are six others in Minnesota - in Moorhead, the Duluth Region, St. Cloud, Blaine, St. Paul, and Rochester. All but Moorhead and Blaine have a local sales tax, according to the SMASC.