Jeff council to consider financial support for wrestling academy

The Jefferson City council at its May 12 meeting will consider making a $150,000, 10-year forgivable loan to T.J. Sebolt for use in developing a wresting academy.

Sebolt, a 2006 graduate of Centerville High School who compiled a 207-1 record, inspires awe among those familiar with wrestling. Columnist Chuck Offenburger calls him one of Iowa’s greatest wrestlers.” He calls Sebolt’s wish to relocate his “acclaimed” Sebolt Wrestling Academy to Jefferson “an economic development coup.”

Jefferson city council member Dave Sloan, after hearing a presentation by Sebolt at the April 28 meeting, called the planned academy “a plus-plus-plus” for Jefferson.

Sebolt Wrestling Academy would be in the old Safeway building north the Law Enforcement Center on S. Chestnut St. The building, which saw minimal use for decades, was renovated as an athletic training center by Jeff and Amy Schroeder and named “The Fieldhouse.” Greene County Youth Athletic Association purchased the building three years ago when the Schroeders left Jefferson.

Sebolt has operated Sebolt Wresting Academy for 11 years. He rents space at North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City and at ISU in Ames. He plans to consolidate both those locations into the Jefferson location. He and his wife Bethany plan to move to Jefferson with their two young daughters. According to T.J., they like small towns and they want their daughters to attend a small school and participate in small town sports.

The Sebolts are negotiating purchase of The Fieldhouse with GCYAA. They plan to do $40,000 in interior renovations at their expense, and $150,000 in façade work with the proposed forgivable loan. The exterior plans include installation of an overhead door, concrete repair and replacement, replacing windows, tuckpointing, and adding stone/brick wainscoating. Total project cost is $325,000.

Sebolt will apply for a 5-year tax abatement.

T.J. Sebolt and his father Scott Sebolt, talked with the council via the digital meeting platform. The elder Sebolt is a financial partner in the project. According to them, parents will drive a considerable distance for an “elite” club experience for their youngsters. Some even move to where a wrestling academy is located.

At the 2020 state wrestling tournament, 10 state champions were Sebolt wrestlers. Eight runners-up, including Greene County freshman McKinley Robbins, were Sebolt wrestlers. Thirty-two placers in Classes 1A, 2A and 3A were members of the Sebolt Wrestling Academy.

Having the academy in Jefferson will be good for the city, Sebolt said, as wrestlers or their parents will buy fuel and meals in town. He said most parents don’t stay in the building while their youngsters work out, but find other places in go for that time.

The building is now tax-exempt as GCYAA is a not-for-profit organization. Taxes would be $5,800 on the building, city administrator Mike Palmer said.

“This is really exciting for Jefferson,” mayor Matt Gordon said after the Sebolts’ presentation.

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