SAN MARCOS — A San Marcos financial planner’s vision of a multi-court sports complex in the city that would rival some of the largest venues in Southern California is gaining steam.
The Mega Game Plex, the placeholder moniker for the indoor sports facility being proposed by Dimitris Magemeneas, is in its early stages, but the 47-year-old said he and the fledgling coalition are determined to make it a reality.
“The coast has the beaches, Vista has the Wave Waterpark, we could have the Mega Game Plex,” said Magemeneas, who recently flirted with a run for San Marcos City Council before ultimately not filing for election.
Magemeneas envisions the project being a 140,000-square-foot converted commercial or industrial space, which would house a 10- to 12-court athletics facility that would be primarily used for basketball and volleyball.
San Diego County has indoor athletics facilities for both sports, but nothing of that size, especially not in North County. The closest facilities of similar size and scope are in Orange County, where a number of youth and high school athletic teams have to travel for tournaments and games.
Those facilities are major tourism draws, attracting thousands of athletes and their families to the sites, where they spend money in the surrounding areas and stimulate the region’s economy.
Magemeneas said this was part of the inspiration for the concept. He even remembers the date he came up with the plan.
“June 21, 2015,” Magemeneas said. “I was at the MAP (a sports facility in Garden Grove, Calif.), watching my son play on the ‘Wells Fargo Court’ and that is when I had this vision of having something like this down in San Diego. Around that same time, I reunited with an old college buddy who had opened up an indoor volleyball facility in Arizona and I started to think that this was not a coincidence, and that doing this was not some crazy idea.”
San Diego County, Magemeneas said, is ripe for a facility like this because it has a similar tourism appeal as Orange County with the beaches, SeaWorld, the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, Legoland and other places.
“If I am in Chicago and am getting on a plane to watch (my son) play in a tournament, what better place to go than San Diego?” Magemeneas said. “Vegas is OK, but it isn’t nearly as family friendly as San Diego. We have an opportunity to cross market the facility with other tourism bureaus, and it could be a regional draw as well.”
The facility could also draw students at the nearby colleges for intramural events, seniors and adult sport leagues, and events and conferences, Magemeneas said.
“There are so many potential uses for a mega facility like this,” Magemeneas said.
Right now, the indoor facility complex exists on paper and digital documents. But Magemeneas said he’s taken several steps in what he calls Phase 1 of a potentially five-phase timeline toward realizing the project.
In the first phase, he raised $1,500 to pay for a student consulting team from Cal State San Marcos to perform a feasibility study.
In addition to validating the premise that there was a need for such a facility in North County, the key findings of the 51-page report that the team delivered last December were that the organization needed to be nonprofit and that they should pursue conversion of an existing space instead of building the project from the ground up, which would cost four times as much as a conversion, estimated at $7 million to $8 million.
In Phase 2, which is currently underway, Magemeneas recruited four people to create a five-member nonprofit board, applied for nonprofit status with the Internal Revenue Service and adopted the group’s articles of incorporation and have created a placeholder website, megagameplex.org.
The next step in Phase 2 is to raise $15,000 that will go toward the development of the website and marketing materials to promote the project throughout the region.
In the following phases, Magemeneas said they would identify a site, begin and complete the entitlement process through the city, construct and begin operations.
With each phase comes a new fundraising goal: $150,000 for Phase 3, which includes securing the site and going through the city process, $1.5 million in Phase 4, which is commencing construction; and $15 million for Phase 5, which includes completing construction and raising enough money to operate the facility for two to three years.
Over the years, there have been a number of attempts to build large indoor facilities in San Diego County, but without success.
Magemeneas, a self-professed man of faith, said he has prayed on the issue and believes he and his partners can succeed in this venture through meticulous planning and studying the pitfalls of other ventures.
“It is taking a methodical approach, it is benchmarking, it is doing our homework in advance so that we can make it a real community destination,” he said. “I just want to see it happen. We are going to make it happen.”