Mosiac Quarter Takes Next Step to Reality

Game Changer

By Rodney Campbell

Pima County is getting an exciting new place to gather and play, a project that will benefit the region by creating an estimated $12.5 billion economic impact across Southern Arizona over the next 40 years.

When the Pima County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a four-decade southside lease for the Mosaic Quarter development in March, it cleared the way for a 90-acre project that will include MQ Iceplex, a facility with three rinks, and two indoor sports centers, MQ Field House and MQ Sportsplex, that will provide a variety of courts and fields for team and individual sports.

The county sees Mosaic Quarter as a game changer, an amenity that will offer locals a much-needed sports and entertainment complex and draw visitors from across the country. The first phase, including the Iceplex and Field House, will open in 2026 on the footprint of the Kino Sports Complex.

“The development will alter the landscape for sports and tourism opportunities in Pima County,” said Carmine DeBonis, Jr., the deputy county administrator for public works. “The development of sports, hospitality and restaurant options will not only provide a significant capital expenditure, but will make Pima County an especially strong contender when looking to attract additional sporting events, league play and other types of conferences to the region.”

Frank Knott, Jr., senior managing director for Mosaic Quarter Development, said the idea for the project started in 2018. He and his team spent the next two years meeting with community, business and sports program leaders.

What he found was a populace that reminded him of Baltimore, his hometown. The city hosted a fair for 20 years that united residents from numerous neighborhoods.

“I saw a familiar opportunity for Pima County,” Knott said. “The gathering place was what seemed to be missing − a place for everyone, a place for celebration, a place that could stimulate economic growth, a place to engender pride and confidence in the entire community, a place that became Mosaic Quarter.”

His team was given the go-ahead for the project in December 2020 and a development agreement was finalized in June 2021. They spent the next three years finalizing site and facility plans and obtaining construction permits and approvals.

One of the goals is to provide opportunities for underserved youth to compete in sports. A key element is the Mosaic Foundation, a nonprofit that will partner with local groups and organizations to provide support to 8,600 children through $1.5 million in grants annually.

“From the athletics perspective, too often enthusiastic youth are relegated to the sidelines due to a long list of uncontrollable socioeconomic circumstances,” Knott said. “Most prevalent of these, however, is the affordability gap that exists in today’s youth sports landscape.”

While projections show that 12% of Mosaic Quarter’s revenue will be generated from travel sports events, Knott said the project’s main focus will be on local activities, including youth sports and University of Arizona hockey events as well as live music, performing arts and movies.

“Mosaic Quarter’s business model is not isolated to travel sports,” he said. “To do so, as discovered by many travel sports destinations, is folly. Instead, local programming serves as Mosaic Quarter’s financial foundation while travel sports events provide the catalyst for community impact.”

The plan includes three hotels and 14 restaurants as part of the MQ Pavilion. Having amenities on site will be an advantage for visitors and will spur the local economy by supporting 92,000 jobs, according to Mosaic Quarter officials.

“Usually, athletic facility complexes are developed without attention to support amenities,” Knott said. “The prevailing thought is that hotels, restaurants and retail will arrive separately once the athletic programming develops and stabilizes. The result is that athletic facilities are developed in geographic isolation with support amenities located at a significant distance.”

Knott calls Mosaic Quarter “both local and personal.” When complete, it will have 1 million square feet of facilities and amenities, all to the daily benefit of Southern Arizonans.

“For our local customers, Mosaic Quarter represents a gathering place for sports, recreation, entertainment and dining,” Knott said. “A date night out skating, followed by dinner and a movie at MQ Pavilion. Enjoying a child’s hockey game at MQ Iceplex while another child is enjoying an open gym experience at MQ Field House. The congregation of athletics, hospitality and dining brings a convenience factor to family events not found in sports-only developments.”

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