A legacy is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as something having a long-lasting impact. And had Legacy Park, the proposed $350 million sports park announced as coming to Murfreesboro in late 2021, been built it would have become one with the many youth sports-related events that draw visitors to Murfreesboro every year. But, it would more likely have become the very opposite of a legacy because the Mesa, Arizona sister project that was completed in 2022 is bleeding a million dollars a day and the company behind it is currently in bankruptcy with dark questions hanging around its head.
In December of 2022, WGNS radio had already reported that there were questions about the park coming to Murfreesboro, and it was reported that Legacy Cares, Inc. a non-profit that was formed as the ownership body, had never purchased the Murfreesboro property from the Hord Family.
John Icchari, in one of his April 2023 “The Murfreesboro Guy” videos, noted that when he asked if the project was still moving forward, he got a shoulder shrug from those “in the know.”
It was reported in the City Sun Times, a newspaper out of Phoenix, Arizona, that the owners of the Arizona park filed for bankruptcy in May 2023, and that they were looking for both a new management company for the park and a buyer for the Mesa, Arizona park.
“In addition,” says the article, “Legacy Cares has engaged an investment bank, Miller Buckfire & Co, to assist it with options, including a potential sale of all assets of Legacy Cares.” The sports park, in the mean-time, continues to function under bankruptcy protection and a $9 million emergency loan, continuing to draw many youth sports groups to the area with bookings through 2030.
With Legacy Cares focused on doing all that they can to keep their current park afloat, it is highly unlikely that they will be bringing a similar venue to Murfreesboro. After much fanfare with its opening in Arizona in late January of 2022, there were questions about the financing and the management of the park from the beginning.
A July 2023 article in the Queen Creek Tribune, reported that, “The U.S. trustee monitoring Legacy Park’s bankruptcy case last week asked the judge to assign a trustee to take over the park’s management and business affairs from owner Legacy Cares, citing ‘evidence of dishonesty, incompetence or gross mismanagement’ before and after Legacy filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May.”
The U.S. Trustee handing the case, Attorney Jennifer Giaimo, wrote a “blistering” 23-page filing that “accused Legacy Cares of failing to disclose conflicts of interest, improperly diverting assets, failing to justify a budgeted $708,000 management fee to Elite Sports Group, overpaying executives and employing multiple family members of people connected with Legacy,” according to the Tribune article. The article went on to report that Legacy Cares has acted “either dishonestly or with a level of ineptitude that renders them completely incompetent to manage the debtor’s affairs.”
Outrage at charges of underhanded dealings and cronyism, as well as cries of “everyone is just out to get us” by those defending Legacy Cares is central to the war of words that has been taking place between the U.S. Trustee, representatives of Legacy Cares, and a new company they created to take over management of the park, Elite Sports Group, that was not even registered to operate in Arizona when it took over management of the park.
“If the court is not inclined to assign a trustee,” noted the Tribune article, “the filing asks the judge to consider dismissing the bankruptcy case and end the nonprofit’s temporary protections from its creditors.” The park was built through a $284 million loan agreement with government bond holders in October 2022.
With all that has come out in the last few months about Legacy Cares, Legacy Sports, and all entities associated with the project, it is perhaps a good thing that the project never really got off the ground in Murfreesboro. While the end product would have indeed been a legacy for youth sports in the area, it appears that the facility would have come with a huge cloud of questionable business practices over its head.