Ex-NBA player sues DFW airport over lack of development around sports complex

A former NBA player says he spent millions building a sports facility on property at DFW airport because the airport promised development around it. He has now filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the airport.

Former NBA player Jermaine O’Neal built the Drive Nation sports complex at the south end of the airport. He says he built it on airport property because they promised development around it. Now he’s suing because he says the airport broke their word.

“This process upset me, disappointed me,” he said.
O’Neal moved to North Texas after his playing days were over. Wanting to grow young players, he built his sports facility.

“Initially, I had a deal in the town of Keller,” he said.

O’Neal and attorney Victor Vital say it was meant to be for a 99-year lease. But he was approached by the airport with plans for a mixed-use development.

“They told me which direction they were going, which was a one-of-a-kind mixed-use development on the south side of the airport, which intrigued me,” he recalls.

O’Neal entered into a 40-year lease with the airport and spent nearly $14 million of his own money to build the Drive Nation complex.

According to Vital, a drawing of the airport at O’Neal depicted the planned development.

“What would it look like and what was planned,” Vital said. “Unfortunately what happened was that we had a sea of ​​warehouses and gas stations hooked up to a Whataburger.”

In a statement, the airport wrote: “DFW Airport is aware that Drive Nation Sports has taken legal action regarding its rental agreement with the airport. At this time, the airport has no additional comment regarding the legal action.

“Essentially the lawsuit is that they were selling Jermaine a bill of goods sort of empty promises,” Vital said.

O’Neal says a national company he wouldn’t name wanted to buy his Drive Nation if he could get his 40-year lease extended for 15 years. He could not.

“So we moved forward, but it was just based on what they said they couldn’t do legally,” he said.

But O’Neal and his lawyer say they have evidence that there are other tenants at the airport who have longer leases.

“Absolutely,” Vital said. “And we exposed him in the lawsuit. What they told him is wrong.”

O’Neal went to the NBA in 1996 right out of high school. He is used to contests on a basketball court, but this contest will be played on a different court.

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