Bo knows — New partnership aligns famous sports name with athletic goals for youth

Take the popularity of youth sports, a big name, two partners and the city of Hilliard  — what do you get? A new sports complex coming to Central Ohio.

A partnership between Bo Jackson’s Elite Sports and The Sports Facility Advisory has been cemented to build the second Bo Jackson’s Elite Sports complex in the country and the first in Ohio.

A groundbreaking ceremony took place in September for the 114,000-square-foot domed facility that will offer a place for world-class training for a variety of sports. The complex is expected to open this summer.

Jackson, the renowned NFL and MLB all-star, attended the groundbreaking, saying the complex focuses on not only the physical skills it takes to succeed as an athlete but much more.

“Life isn’t about hitting a home run, scoring a touchdown, making a basket,” he says. “If these kids don’t have the right tools to go out into the world, and because your skills won’t do it for you, the thing that we want to teach these kids is the right way to be an athlete.”

Shelter from the cold

SFA has spent the last several years opening facilities that improve communities and contribute to the overall health of today’s young athletes.

Athletes based in northern states needed indoor, weatherproof training environments that allowed them to condition in the same way as players in states without severe winters — but the availability of such facilities was severely lacking.

In response, Jackson developed Bo Jackson’s Elite Sports training complex in Lockport, Ill., designed to offer indoor athletic training during the cold months. Under the guidance of former MLB players, Olympic athletes and former collegiate and NFL trainers, coaches, teams and athletes were equipped with the life skills, training habits and sports-specific abilities necessary to excel in the highly competitive landscape of youth and amateur sports.

The facility, backed by partnerships with Nike and Gatorade, also provided athletes with access to top-quality gear and nutrition education.

Expansion plans

The concept was so successful at changing players’ outcomes that the development team decided to roll out the concept across the U.S. Turning to Florida-based SFA, which plans, funds, opens and manages a wide range of youth and amateur sports facilities, a partnership was formed and the companies launched Bo Jackson’s Elite Sports Development Group LLC. The group selected Hilliard as the home for the next facility.

One of the main reasons SFA founder Dev Pathik said SFA wanted to bring an indoor training facility to the area is because he believes athletes in the Midwest are at a disadvantage to other athletes due to weather conditions that prevent them from training year-round. A second Bo Jackson’s Elite Sports complex was announced last year and will be built in Avon, marking the group’s second location in the Buckeye State.

SFA has also begun researching other locations, and is moving quickly to address the athleticism deficit with the addition of several indoor training facilities.

Each facility will be designed to develop the character and athleticism of today’s increasingly competitive athletes. Once completed, each complex will boast a dome structure including a full-sized baseball infield, batting cages, a girls’ softball infield, a weight room, an 80-yard laser-timed track, two multi-purpose fields for soccer and football, multiple study areas and food concessions. ●

How to reach: Bo Jackson’s Elite Sports Complex, (815) 221-6001 or