Gary Nager

I have to admit that I was really excited to see (on Mar. 26) WFTS-TV’s ABC Action News set up its “Good Morning Tampa Bay” morning show outside the Wiregrass Ranch Sports Campus of Pasco County, where my wife Jannah is the director of marketing for RADDSports, which manages the programs at the campus. 

“Good Morning Wesley Chapel” was the fifth stop on the morning show’s ongoing tour of Tampa Bay communities, so I had hopes to find some new information that maybe managing editor John Cotey, videographer Charmaine George and I haven’t been able to bring you because we’re a three-person team, while ABC Action News has an entire team of reporters, anchors and producers who created multiple features between 5 a.m.-7 a.m. that day about our area.

As a 27-year veteran of covering the news and information coming out of Wesley Chapel, I have to say that I was expecting more  — and better — information coming out of that show.

First of all, anchor Deiah Riley started off by calling the Sports Campus the Sports Complex and repeated throughout the morning that the Sports Campus features 16 volleyball courts and eight (at first she said 18) basketball courts (both correct), plus 56 fencing “lanes” and 8 wrestling mats?

Here’s the thing — the Sports Campus does have room for that number of fencing pistes (the correct term) and wrestling mats, but has yet (or any plans) to host a fencing or wrestling event. There was no mention of the Sports Campus’ state-of-the-art cheerleading facility, indoor and outdoor soccer under the direction of former Tampa Bay Rowdies head coach Stuart Campbell or the Yo Murphy Performance training area we told you about in our Feb. 16 issue. 

OK, so the producers of “Good Morning Wesley Chapel” obviously didn’t read any recent issues of the Neighborhood News to get their information, but there were mistakes and discrepancies throughout the morning.

Screenshot, Deiah Riley

For example, Riley’s pre-recorded report mistakenly repeated multiple times during those two hours that the ever-expanding Wesley Chapel District Park on Boyette Rd. is part of the county’s sports tourism efforts and re-branding as “Florida’s Sports Coast” — when the WCDP always has been intended for local residents (unlike the Sports Campus). That report also said that WCDP’s inclusive playground (the first of its kind in Pasco) was paid for by impact fees without mentioning the Rotary Club of Wesley Chapel, AdventHealth, the Lennar Foundation and others who gave money for that project.

And, speaking of sports tourism, there was no mention of AdventHealth Center Ice, in the heart of Wesley Chapel, or the Sarah Vande Berg Tennis & Wellness Center in nearby Zephyrhills.

Plus, while there was a short feature about the new Grove Theater, there was no interview clip with developer Mark Gold, nor any mention of The Grove’s coming-soon KRATE container park, which will bring dozens of new eateries to Wesley Chapel. The theater piece also mentioned its sushi bar, but not the Bistro restaurant.

And, while there were good stats provided about the rise in average home prices in Wesley Chapel, the Realtor interviewed is based out of South Tampa and featured an interview with a family who bought a home with a large body of water behind it which likely also wasn’t located in Wesley Chapel. 

The two best features were about Wesley Chapel youngsters, one of which was an update on Janiah Hinds, who we featured back in August 2020 for her “Slay it Proud” T-shirt line. The other was an excellent “Deiah’s Brag Book” feature about 12-year-old soccer player Peyton Wheatley, who suffered a life-threatening event back in late Feb., too late to get the story in our Mar. 16 issue. To help Peyton’s family, visit and search “Peyton’s Road to Recovery.”  

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