Developing, co-owning and operating sports complexes like the Betty & Bobby Allison Sports Town in northwest Springfield is a dream job for Stan Liedel.
Although, the process of opening a sports complex is “a whirlwind,” he says.
“The development is the toughest part, to get them off the ground,” he says. “Once they are under construction and you know it’s actually going to go, that’s when you get to work. Once they open, that’s the fun part. Watching all those events is fabulous.”
The $30 million Sports Town complex opened in November 2022 on 105 acres near the Deer Lake Golf Course, Interstate 44 and the Springfield-Branson National Airport.
Liedel is president and founder of Jenks, Oklahoma-based L5 Management & Consulting, which focuses on the development, opening and, in some cases, operating of sports complexes. Prior to Sports Town, his company opened Titan Sports complexes in Tulsa and Jenks. Liedel and his company currently are working on early development phases of two additional sports complexes in Oklahoma, where he says he will take an ownership and operational role.
Liedel says he played various youth sports and wrestled into his college years. Although he never completed a college degree, he says most of his “hard knocks” education came from the retail industry where he worked in management positions at Circuit City, Best Buy and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Transitioning from retail to developing sports complexes was partly due to inspiration from his daughter, who was a competitive soccer player. They were looking for options in Jenks, where he lives.
“We were looking for venues that were local, and there just weren’t really that many great options for indoor venues,” he says.
Liedel’s vision for Sports Town came to fruition through a partnership with Rob Phillips, who owned the land and reached out with an interest in developing it for sports tourism.
He and Phillips are co-owners of Sports Town, which Liedel says was a need that wasn’t being met.
“You have a few facilities in Springfield,” he says. “But there’s just not enough capacity if you want to host large events and if you want to give people enough programming.”
Now as a host site for local and regional games and tournaments for soccer, volleyball, basketball and football, the operators expect to generate $30 million a year in direct spending in area hotels and restaurants. Liedel says Sports Town already has limited availability for bookings in 2023 and 2024, and officials are booking sporting events into 2025.
“The entire facility was packed from eight in the morning until eight at night,” he says of a recent basketball tournament. “When you see that many kids come through, and your business is doing well, that’s what you do it for.”
Springfield Business Journal’s 2023 Trusted Advisers event honors 20 businesspeople.