Buford to get sports

BUFORD - Georgia's very first sports and training megaplex is set to come to town in 2009 as a result of a rezoning decision made by the city Tuesday.

The Elite Sports Academy, a $33 million facility set to be located along 55 acres on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard one-half mile north of Ga. Highway 20, will feature sport specific performance training and fitness for teams and individuals in a wide array of different sports.

According to Massoud Roushandel, a partner associated with the project, the complex will offer training in soccer, football, basketball, volleyball, lacrosse and other sports in addition to serving as the official home of the FC Atlanta Soccer Academy.

"We are very excited about what promises to be one of the only sports academies of this magnitude in the United States," Roushandel said. "Aside from providing a world-class training ground for athletes, the facility will have a huge economic impact for the city of Buford and surrounding areas."

Roushandel further stated that the inspiration for Elite Sports stemmed from the IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla., a 175-acre campus home to the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, the David Leadbetter Golf Academy and the IMG Soccer Academy among others. He said Elite Sports chose Buford because of its excellent school system, its good location and because Gwinnett County is considered to be one of the top sports counties in the nation.

"It's a nice city," Roushandel said of Buford. "We want to provide a true club environment and culture for all our sports teams and staff. Instead of just going to practice in a city park a few nights a week, we want to become a safe home away from home where athletes of all sports and backgrounds can converge."

Roushandel hopes to break ground within the next 60 days and said the complex will come to life in two phases. In the first phase, eight outdoor, lighted fields will take shape in addition to a 90,000-square-foot training center. In the indoor training facility, there will be two basketball courts which can be converted to four volleyball courts, a 12,000-square-foot training and fitness center with strength training and cardiovascular equipment, a three lane Mondo sprint track and a pool. Phase two would include a dormitory with 100 rooms for housing teams and visiting athletes. Roushandel also said that individual and family memberships will be available.

"It will prove to be a one stop shop for families," he said. "While the kids are at team practices mom and dad can get a workout or get some work done on the laptop."

A spokeswoman for the city of Buford said the facility will mean a lot to the local youth. She also said there was no opposition to the rezoning decision which saw the land change from a residential-mixed (RM) classification to a commercial (C-2) classification.