Alachua County moves forward with World Masters Athletics championship 

Alachua County Commissioner Anna Prizzia discussed the World Masters Athletics championship at Tuesday's meeting.
Alachua County Commissioner Anna Prizzia discussed the World Masters Athletics championship at Tuesday's meeting.
Courtesy of Alachua County

The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved the use of nearly $651,900 in tourism money to prepare for the 2025 World Masters Athletics (WMA) Indoor Championship. 

The BOCC voted on the topic split into four items on Tuesday, with Commissioner Chuck Chestnut absent from the meeting. 

The first two items, the budget and draft site plan for West End Golf Course, and the use of $645,000 from Tourism Reserves for capital improvements at West End passed 3-1 with Commissioner Ken Cornell in dissent. 

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Items 3-4, authorizing international travel for County Manager Michele Lieberman and Tourism Director Jessica Hurov to attend this year’s WMA championships in Sweden, passed unanimously. 

Viking Companies, the owner of Celebration Pointe, had originally entered a contract to purchase the West End Golf Course property, which had been vacant since 2019, for use in the WMA championship, but the county took over the purchase in May. 

The WMA championship project took a hit in June, when Gov. Ron DeSantis slashed $14.8 million in local funding projects from the state budget, including $2.75 million for the WMA championship, mainly planned to be spent on improvements at West End. 

Without the state funds, the WMA budget is $589,632 in the red, and Cornell, who has been a vocal proponent of the project, has now voiced concerns about who will pay the difference. 

Svein Dyrkolbotn, principal owner of Viking Companies, told the BOCC that Viking plans to make up for the difference, saying he views it as an investment, not a loss. 

“We believe it will pay dividends long term, because most of the loss that you see there, if you look at the capital improvements that are occurring near the event center and Celebration Point in itself, it’s an investment for multiple events in the future,” Dyrkolbotn said. 

Cornell also took issue with the way funds are to be spent at West End, as the site plan reveals the new purchase is to be used for javelin, hammer and discus events, which Cornell said is not what Alachua County residents want to see there permanently. 

“I’m more interested in Alachua County residents than WMA,” Cornell said. 

Commissioner Anna Prizzia agreed with Cornell that residents’ needs are a top priority and urged staff to hold community meetings and listen to the feedback received. However, she said the county’s sports tourism goals were in motion before she was elected, and it is too late to back out now. 

“We’re in it for a penny and we’re in it for a pound, in my opinion,” Prizzia said. 

Prizzia also asked staff to look into ways to offset the WMA championship’s effects on the environment. 

Besides the $645,000 approved this week, the county has already appropriated $350,000 for the WMA championship, and staff’s travel to Sweden is planned to cost $6,864 for flights, hotels and meals. 

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Charles Courtney

How about putting in a nice swimming pool similar to the facility at westside park. That’s something Alachua County citizens could use and enjoy for years to come.


As a public service, I am willing to join their group to Sweden as valet, on county funds of course.


As a golf instructor and former West End employee, I and my students many of whom live near West End would like to see a driving range and as others have suggested perhaps a swimming pool with clubhouse/restaurant: a better use of our tourism dollars. I get several calls a week for a driving range. Nobody asks for a place to throw a javelin.

Does he have a printing pres?

Svein is going to “make up the difference?” That is a laugh. His soulless development Celebration Pointe is in bankruptcy court owing over $200 million. All he knows how to do is borrow and spend. Too bad he never learned how to earn money to pay back his loans. And now he wants more county taxpayer checks to bail him out. WHEN WILL IT END, BOCC?

The WMA will go down in history as one of the biggest money losing boondoggles in Alachua County history. Second only to the $38 million the BOCC gave Svein (surprise) to build a lousy Sports Center.


Slaughterhouse Prizzia loves to spend taxpayer money on her pet projects, all to get re-elected.

More rules needed

Governments keep wanting more of what are called “public-private partnerships.” But they do not have the rules in place to safeguard the public treasury. When a project has a budget shortfall, who pays for it? If the private company says they will, BEFORE signing a contract with them the government needs to run a credit check and financial vetting to see if they have the money. If not, the government needs to insist on a performance bond, or no deal. Alachua County failed to do this in its contracts with Celebration Pointe, the projects are money losers, and I predict it will come back to cost the county taxpayers millions before this is over.