Programs are scheduled to begin Jan. 2 at Bo Jackson's Elite Sports, the 114,000-square-foot air-filled dome that recently rose from the ground on Cosgray Road across the street from Homestead Park.

Programs are scheduled to begin Jan. 2 at Bo Jackson's Elite Sports, the 114,000-square-foot air-filled dome that recently rose from the ground on Cosgray Road across the street from Homestead Park.

Bo Jackson, the Heisman Trophy winner and dual-sport professional athlete who founded Bo Jackson's Elite Sports, said choosing Hilliard for his second facility was not happenstance.

"Hilliard welcomed us with open arms," he said.

The site at 4696 Cosgray Road on the far northwest side of Hilliard was not the original proposed location, but Jackson's team worked with Hilliard leaders to ensure the facility was built in the city.

"We worked things out, and this is the end result," Jackson said.

Jackson was in Hilliard in September 2013 for a groundbreaking ceremony on leased land inside Roger A. Reynolds Municipal Park; however, when investors reportedly voiced concerns about the facility's construction on leased land, the project stalled.

The 7-acre Cosgray Road tract is part of the 103 acres the city purchased from Hilliard City Schools for $40,000 per acre in 2015 and in turn sold to Bo Jackson's Elite Sports for $45,000 per acre -- or $315,000 -- earlier this year, according to Mayor Don Schonhardt.

"We contacted Bo Jackson again because we wanted this unique facility in our community (and) I think Bo Jackson recognized the facility would do well here, too," Schonhardt said. "I think they saw the interest here in soccer is outstanding and the demographics ideal."

Jackson said he was considering several other communities in addition to Hilliard and is pleased with the all the amenities the local site will showcase. Jackson's other facility is in Lockport, Illinois, near Chicago.

"We have a Bentley in Chicago. ... This is a Rolls-Royce," Jackson said.

Jackson said he established his company to provide athletes in cold-weather climates the opportunity to "compete on an even playing field" with athletes from warmer-weather climates who can train year-round.

"(Elite Sports) provides a real environment where athletes can take live pitching and practice 12 months a year," said Jim Thompson, the president of Bo Jackson's Elite Sports.

The facility includes a full-size baseball diamond with major-league dimensions, as well as training areas for football, lacrosse and soccer, Thompson said.

Registration is open for soccer leagues, lacrosse leagues, baseball and softball programs, private lessons and rental spaces for teams to practice.

Jackson said the facility is designed for training, not to host tournaments.

"We will concentrate on techniques," he said.

Jackson said a player's skills can diminish when playing too many games and not taking time to practice and concentrate on techniques.

"One of the things that makes Bo Jackson's so special to us is their philosophy of training the whole athlete -- mind and body -- through sports conditioning," Schonhardt said.

A staff of coaches who competed at the collegiate and professional levels will work with athletes at the facility.

"There will be no weekend-warrior coaching," Jackson warned, adding that while parents and other acquaintances of athletes are welcome to watch, they will be told -- politely -- not to offer their own advice.

Jackson said athletes' conduct and behavior would be held to a high standard for the privilege of enrolling at the facility.

Billing it as the "Disney World of sports," Jackson said the flagship Elite Sports that opened in 2008 in suburban Chicago shows significant demand for such a facility.

"We will have to turn people away," he said, adding that he plans to open 10 more facilities in the Midwest in the next 10 to 12 years.

For more information about Bo Jackson's Elite Sports, go to bjescolumbus.com.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo