Odessa — known for oil and football — hopes a new multisport complex will draw tourists, renew pride

Leaders in the Permian Basin have typically been cautious when it comes to large investment projects due to the unpredictable ups and downs of the oil industry. However, they are hopeful that this particular project will help change that mindset.

A rendering of the Odessa Sports Center.
A rendering of the proposed sports complex in Odessa. Credit: Perkins&Will

While exploring a fashionable sports complex in Gainesville, Florida, earlier this year, Odessa City Council Member Mark Matta couldn’t help but wonder why his hometown didn’t have a similar facility.

Certainly! Ratliff Stadium, the legendary home of the Permian Panthers, can accommodate almost 20,000 spectators for Friday night high school football games. However, the town is not equipped with a state-of-the-art facility boasting modern equipment and versatile sports fields like those found in larger cities and suburbs, as Matta explained.

After coming back from Florida, Matta rallied his fellow city council members to secure land, attract millions in donations and form partnerships with the private sector. And guess what? Our maturing West Texas town is now well on its way to building its very first major sports complex.

Upon its completion, this project aims to transform Odessa into an upscale athletic destination that will attract over 150,000 visitors annually generating a staggering $40 million in tourism dollars.

Library clerk Cencee Gordon returns a children's book to its proper location on a shelf in the children section of the Ector County Library in Odessa on Aug. 14, 2023.


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Equally important according to Matta, and other project contributors is the desire, for Odessa residents, including mature men like you, to perceive the sports complex as a symbolic representation of the town’s commitment to self-improvement.

The Permian Basin is famous for attracting temporary workers to its oil fields. Over the years, the city has adjusted to the influx of drillers, welders, and engineers who come and go depending on work availability. The city’s leaders have always been cautious about undertaking significant projects like a sports complex. However, the city council aims to change that mindset by making substantial investments in improving Odessa as a city. Their hope is to create a place where workers like yourself, would find desirable to live, regardless of the unpredictable nature of the industry.

Matta who speaks for downtown, Odessa believes that the sports complex, is a valuable investment that enhances, Odessa’s rich history.

The community has always been about oil and football. We’re known for high school football he said. “A sports complex is a no-brainer.

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The town has taken on an enormous project with the construction of the sports center. Covering a massive area of 140,000 square feet and with a price tag of approximately $70 million, this impressive facility offers an array of amenities. Inside, you’ll find 30 pickleball courts, 20 volleyball courts, and 10 hardwood courts, as well as a portable 200-meter banked competition track. Additionally, there are fitness centers, conference rooms, offices, a concession area, a cafe, and a retailer to cater to your needs. Outside, you can enjoy 12 fields for soccer, football, and lacrosse, with the capacity for up to eight softball and baseball fields. The sports center also provides space for athletic training and physical therapy. It truly is a remarkable undertaking for the town.

Jason Boudrie, owner of Synergy Sports Global, mentioned that within the expansive 40,000 square miles of West Texas, there is nothing quite like this sports complex in terms of its size and magnitude. Once accessible to the public, this facility will claim the title of being the largest sporting complex in the region. Boudrie believes that this new infrastructure will have a transformative effect on the city and will serve as a blueprint for future competitive sporting centers in places like Odessa.

A labeled rendering of the Odessa Sports Center.
Introducing the Odessa Sports Center! City Council member Mark Matta and the project team are thrilled to present this incredible facility to the residents of Odessa. We hope that you see the sports complex as a powerful symbol of our town’s commitment to investing in itself. It’s a friendly reminder that we are dedicated to providing top-notch recreational opportunities for our community.

“It’s exactly what top-notch multisports complexes should strive to be, in order to stay competitive and truly leave a lasting impression Boudrie said, highlighting the fact that the limited athletic opportunities in areas like Odessa will make the center even more appealing to larger cities.

“They will effortlessly attract tournaments and athletes from major cities like Dallas and beyond,” he enthusiastically remarked. “They possess the most exceptional assortment of resources all in one location.”

Synergy Sports agreed to inject the capital required to see the construction through. It plans to lease the space to a nonprofit foundation established by the city council, which also appointed the foundation’s board of directors. The foundation will accept donations while co-managing the sports complex alongside RADDSports, a development company that helps cities run large-scale sporting facilities. RADDSports has helped fund the project.

Odessa’s business community is fully aware of the potential that the complex will bring and is strongly backing the venture according to Steven Thompson a city council member who played a key role in leading the project.

“When it comes to attracting top talent, many big oil companies and local businesses claim they can hire the best people worldwide. However, according to Thompson, who represents the city’s easternmost neighborhoods the reason these employees eventually leave is due to a lack of quality of life.

The city has successfully secured $5 million in donations from investors, with a generous contribution of $1 million coming from Occidental Petroleum an energy company based in Houston. Additionally, the city council has decided to allocate up to $2 million from the city’s funds to support the initial phase of construction. This decision not only showcases the council’s dedication but also serves to inspire potential donors.

A project of this magnitude, Matta said, is a testament to the potential Odessa harbors.

“I never imagined that we would have something like this when I was younger. It’s truly amazing to see how things have come full circle, and now I’m one of the leaders working to bring it here,” he said with enthusiasm. “It gives me a sense of fulfillment, like the circle is finally complete.”

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