The East Baton Rouge Parish Recreation and Park Commission is considering signing a deal with a nonprofit group that wants to build, staff and operate a large, air-conditioned gym at Perkins Road Community Park.
The effort to get the gym built is being led by the Baton Rouge Basketball and Volleyball Association Inc., a BREC committee was told at a meeting Wednesday to discuss the proposal.
BREC Commissioner Kenneth Riche said Jim Bernhard, president and chief executive officer of The Shaw Group Inc., is a key member of the association that is seeking to build the gym.
“He’s a very generous guy who has reached out to BREC to partner with him to benefit the people of East Baton Rouge Parish,” Riche said after BREC’s planning committee voted to endorse the association’s proposal.
The cost to build and equip the facility, which will be large enough for three basketball courts or five volleyball courts, is estimated at $5 million, said Ted Jack, assistant superintendent of BREC.
Jack said the parks department is only required to put $1.5 million into the project under the proposed cooperative endeavor agreement with the Baton Rouge Basketball and Volleyball Association Inc.
He said BREC’s money would be used mostly to prepare the site and build a parking lot.
Jack said the new gym would be physically tied to an existing recreation center.
The proposed agreement specifies that basketball and volleyball programming will have a priority for scheduling of the gymnasium.
However, Jack said, the agreement also requires that approximately 30 percent of the available programming time be made available to BREC for its programs and activities.
Once built, he said, the gymnasium can be used for a variety of purposes such as BREC day camps, cheerleading competitions or activities targeted at seniors.
The nonprofit group will staff, maintain and manage the gymnasium and will be responsible for paying all utility services, Jack said.
He said the agreement calls for BREC to pay the Baton Rouge Basketball and Volleyball Association a monthly stipend of $4,500 a month to cover the costs of its use of the gymnasium.
Any revenues generated from activities at the gymnasium such as admission fees and concession sales are to remain with the nonprofit group but are subject to audit by BREC, according to the proposed agreement.
The proposed agreement with the Baton Rouge Basketball and Volleyball Association, which the full BREC board will vote on at its meeting Thursday, is for a 25-year term. It can be renewed for five-year periods.
Riche said plans call for the gymnasium to be completed and open for activities in February.
“This will be a really nice facility for East Baton Rouge,” Riche said.