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Developers broke ground Monday on a more than $18 million sports and entertainment complex in northwest Santa Rosa that is expected to draw 1 million people annually — whether they are looking to score a goal or a cold beer.

The project, dubbed Epicenter by its developers, will transform an old wine warehouse on Coffey Lane into a 130,000-square-foot destination for athletes and gamers of all stripes. Developers said it will include three indoor soccer fields, a fitness club, bowling center, laser tag, trampoline playground and a sports bar with a 50-foot video wall.

“It’s one of the few sports and entertainment facilities in the country. ... There’s very few that are combined,” said Andrew Rowley, chief executive officer of Sports City, which will be the largest tenant at the complex.

“It’s got some panache to it,” Rowley said after a groundbreaking ceremony for the project Monday.

Rowley’s company will operate the three soccer fields and one basketball/multipurpose court, which are slated to open in April. The new fields will be used as well for other sports such as lacrosse — which is growing in popularity — flag football and volleyball.

“Both our youth and adult leagues and children’s programs continue to grow so having additional indoor field and court space is great for the community, but the real benefits of the additional space is that it allows us to provide better league game times,” Rowley said.

While the soccer and other sports leagues will be a big attraction, Epicenter will house a cluster of businesses expected to draw an estimated 1 million visitors a year, including repeat customers, said Joe Lourdeaux, vice president of the company, which is made up of local investors. All tenants should be moved in by next summer.

The only similar facility in Northern California is the Silver Creek Sportsplex in San Jose, though that does not have the range of entertainment options as the one planned for Santa Rosa.

The goal is to have “cross pollination” among customers so they will visit different areas, Lourdeaux said.

For example, a mother may want to drop her children off at Rockin’ Jump, a trampoline playground, while she exercises at the Anytime Fitness sports club. An adult soccer team finishing its game might want to go to the Victory House restaurant and sports lounge for post-game beers. The latter facility will have a 50-foot video wall and more than 75 flat-screen televisions for sports viewing for events such as the World Cup and NFL games.

More than 300 parking spaces will be allocated for the project, which will also include a pizzeria and a Starbucks, Lourdeaux said.

“We will make this fun for everyone,” said Lourdeaux, who also serves on the board of directors for the Edgewood Cos., a Lake Tahoe development company. His father, Wally, was an investor at the marina at Lake Sonoma.

“We want to put the family back into family entertainment; to build a place where you can have your kid’s birthday party, your own retirement party, date night, bring your kids during the day and your co-workers during the night,” he added.

The developers purchased the warehouse from Woodstock Properties, an affiliate of the Charles M. Schulz family. Woodstock was extremely helpful in helping to get the project off the ground, Lourdeaux said.

“They graciously held on to this (property) for almost a year until we got everything in place,” Lourdeaux said. Jean Schulz, the widow of cartoonist Charles Schulz, is an investor in Sonoma Media Investments, which owns The Press Democrat.

The building, constructed in the 1960s, used to be wine storage facility. The remodeled facility will have solar panels, LED lighting, energy efficient mechanical systems and a natural cooling system.

Other tenants will include a retail sports shop; a facility to house parties, meetings and banquet rooms; and an upscale bowling center that will house 12 lanes with an additional VIP suite with four lanes that can be rented for parties and events.

There will an area for high-tech games, including a theater motion ride utilizing similar technology to the popular Star Tours ride at Disneyland.

When fully opened, Epicenter and its tenants will employ over 250 people, the developers said. AXIA Architects and Wright Contracting are leading the design and construction teams, while Bank of America is the financing partner for the project.

The project will allow Sports City to expand from its current pair of soccer facilities, one off Piner Road in Santa Rosa and the other outside Cotati off Stony Point Road.

The Cotati site will remain in operation going forward while the Piner Road one will close. The latter suffered with a lack of parking and showers as well as not being climate controlled, which can be difficult for summer league players in the sweltering heat.

You can reach Staff Writer Bill Swindell at 521-5223 or bill.swindell@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @BillSwindell.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Joe Lourdeaux is vice president of Epicenter. His name was misspelled in an earlier version of this story.

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