:#LakePoint, #Cartersville, #Northwest Georgia, #Sports, #readv3.com, #Dean Keener, #BartowCounty, #Emerson

Since breaking ground on LakePoint Sports Complex in Emerson, Ga. the community surrounding the development has been not-so-patiently waiting for it to grow into what was promised when the developers first announced its inception.

Rumors of restaurants and shopping centers circulated, even one about outside companies bringing in amusement parks to compliment the sports complex. But a few years ago, everything seemed to stop. There was no more construction, no news of fresh developments and no word from the organization itself. This grew into more rumors, which eventually were proved true when news broke that LakePoint had filed for bankruptcy.As far as anyone outside of LakePoint knew, the project had come to a full and final halt.

With more questions than answers, and a desire to get to the truth of the story, V3 took a trip to LakePoint’s headquarters to have a conversation with Senior Vice President and Business Coordinator Dean Keener, who is more than happy to explain what exactly is happening at LakePoint right now.

"LakePoint is going to become LakePoint. It’s just taking a little longer than anyone anticipated when the ground broke in 2012, but a project of this magnitude takes time. But the economic impact to Bartow and really the surrounding area is excellent.”

First and foremost, Keener wants the Bartow community to know that how well-off the complex actually is. “We are in a great financial position with good leadership. While not everything has been announced, the plan to complete the project is well under way,” explains Keener. “Thus, barring any extreme circumstances, LakePoint Sports Complex is going to become LakePoint. It’s just taking a little longer than anyone anticipated when we ground broke in 2012, but a project of this magnitude takes time. However, the economic impact to Bartow and the surrounding area is excellent.”

But what about all of those reports that LakePoint filed for bankruptcy, you may ask? The answer is that the organization did file a Chapter 11, which is a form of bankruptcy, but not for the reasons that were assumed.

“The original lender, RimRock, became our owner,” Keener explains. “But in order to get through that process, we had to reorganize through Chapter 11.That process started about a year ago. We came out of that reorganization around January first of this year. Really nothing has changed, the name is still LakePoint and it is still one of the biggest premier youth sports venues, but we just have new ownership through the reorganization.”

Not all of their money was lost. After the reorganization, Keener says they are in the best financial position that they have ever been. “When we came out of the reorganization, we had a clean balance sheet along with a lot of capital behind us that now is able to complete the things we were having a difficult time getting done,” says Keener. According to the Senior Vice President, this is all thanks to the new leadership, CEO Mark O’Brien.

With the financial situation cleared up, folks really wanted to know what is happening at LakePoint. Where are all of the shopping centers, restaurants and entertainment facilities that were supposed to be coming to Bartow County? Keener puts those worries to rest.

“We have very clearly defined leadership and ownership now. The master development of the project may change in some small ways, in the sense of we may build eight fields instead of ten, or we may place this hotel here instead of there. Overall, the plan remains to be a youth sports destination where there are great state-of-the-art sports venues. Whether indoor or outdoor, we plan to offer great amenities likehotels, restaurants, retail, family entertainment centers and more,” Keener says.

While we aren’t seeing much construction right now, it is coming. LakePoint will flourish and grow, but it may not be in 2019.

 “Our goal for 2019 is to make sure that our strategic plan is in place for future growth. I don’t know that people will see a ton of change,” explains Keener. “We will still continue to have events at the indoor pavilion, baseball events and beach volleyball. We hope that there is growth both in the number of events and the number of participants.”

The only change that the community might see is the completion of a bridge that will lead to the North Campus. “We are targeting 2020 and 2021.The area that houses the current venues is considered the South Campus. There is a bridge being built, and that road will lead to Red Top Mountain Road, which is the North Campus. We will have a North and South Campus, but the totality will be considered LakePoint,” says Keener. “We are planning no real changes on the South Campus, just continued growth in 2019. We hope that the road and bridge will be completed late this summer, and venues will be built into 2020 and beyond.”

LakePoint is not able to release much about the outside companies planning to build within their complex, but Keener can confirm that “there are multiple outside entities that are having conversations with ownership right now. I can’t say who they are right now. Hotels, restaurants and family entertainment, all of these facilities will fit inside this world. There is a lot going on behind the scenes right now.”

There are ample opportunities for all types of businesses to join the LakePoint community. But what does the area need? Cartersville is on LakePoint’s doorstep and it is absolutely covered in restaurants and retail. Yet, when locals are looking at LakePoint, they may be looking for more than just a sports complex. Keener agrees and points out that “the area could use more hotels, more sit-down restaurants and more family entertainment. There is LakePoint Station with miniature golf and laser tag. We could use a bowling alley or golfing kind of venues or movie theaters,” he says.

But in terms of LakePoint itself, there is not anything that is vital to add at this moment. “Just growth and state-of-the-art venues. Baseball fields, soccer fields, lacrosse fields, really anything you can name. If they are built to the highest quality, I think everything else will come. It’s really a matter of quality over quantity at this point in the process. The possibilities are endless, but if we don’t focus on quality facilities, then the whole point of LakePoint is lost,” closes Keener.

The growing sports complex has just over 1,200 acres of land to work with and a plan to ensure that LakePoint is just as it was promised to be and more. Locals have been concerned that the construction halted for some time, but Keener assures us that the reorganization was the best move for the company and that there will be an announcement later this year concerning future construction plans.

So, keep an eye on LakePoint and see just how far this incredible sports community will go and the positive impact it will have on the surrounding communities.

Ashlee Bagnell is a graduate of Kennesaw State University where she received her BA in English. She spends her time writing (mostly) Bartow stories at Noble & Main. When she isn’t writing for the magazine, she can be found reading, drinking coffee, binge watching Netflix and HBO shows, drinking more coffee, and even sometimes acting with ACT I Inc., a community theatre based in Cartersville. She lives in Euharlee, Ga. with her family and her two senior adult dogs Milo and Charlie Brown.