Stonecrest Mall expansion and Emory facility planned at sports complex

A massive sports complex proposed for the new city of Stonecrest moved closer to reality Wednesday, when Emory Healthcare committed to constructing medical facilities on the site and developers announced a “grand entrance” connecting the soccer fields to Stonecrest Mall.

The complex, called Atlanta Sports City, will add 250,000 square feet of restaurants and retail to a redesigned front of the mall, an effort that the project's backers hope will rejuvenate the mall and the region along I-20 in southeast DeKalb County.

The Emory Sports Medicine Center will provide medical, training and rehabilitative services, while an Emory Healthcare clinic will serve as the organization’s east metro regional office.

Plans for Atlanta Sports City were announced in February, and construction will begin in fall. Developers say the complex will eventually include a 15,000-seat stadium, 22 soccer and multipurpose fields, seven baseball diamonds and five basketball courts.

The connection to Stonecrest Mall integrates the soccer complex with shopping and other activities that could draw millions of visitors annually, said Vaughn Irons, the project’s developer.

“We don’t want visitors coming here from across the world and having to cross a parking lot,” Irons said during a press conference Wednesday. “We’re making Stonecrest the best place it can be.”

The addition of Emory facilities shows confidence that the complex, a $200 million investment, will be a success, said Patrick Henderson, CEO of the Atlanta Sports Connection, which owns Atlanta Sports City.

“We made a lot of promises. We’re on track with those promises. We have a lot of momentum,” Henderson said.

The Emory Sports Medicine Center will be a 10,000-square-foot facility with an MRI scanner, physicians and athletic trainers, said Dr. Scott Boden, director of the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center. Emory is investing more than $10 million.

The mall's new entrance will cost $45 million to $50 million, attracting new restaurants and possibly a sporting goods store and entertainment options like an aquarium or trampoline park, said Craig Delasin, CEO for Urban Retail Properties.

"The opportunity to house sports medicine services, a unique retail experience and the ultimate reason to visit Atlanta Sports City — sports — all in one place is monumental to DeKalb County, the state of Georgia and the region," said James Tsismanakis, executive director for Discover DeKalb, the county's nonprofit tourism marketing agency.

Stonecrest Mayor Jason Lary said the sports fields, stadium, medical facilities and retail are helping the city reach its ambition of bringing more businesses to the area. The city of Stonecrest started doing business this month after voters approved its creation in November.

“This is a market-maker for sure,” Lary said. “We’re laying the foundation for economic development. It’s our road to salvation.”