DE Turf Sports Complex Will Boost Delaware Economy
6 October 2016
When it comes to the economic impact of the DE Turf Sports Complex, the news just keeps getting better and better. At least, according to its chairman.
A feasibility study done before ground was broken on the Kent County complex in May estimated DE Turf’s economic impact to the area economy will be around $18 million a year. That was based on hosting 10 regional weekend tournaments, according to Bill Strickland, chairman of the Kent County Regional Sports Complex Corp.
Strickland said new projections are even more optimistic.
“Based upon our updated projections, our analysis tells us we will see $25 million annually in direct economic input as a result of the complex,” said Strickland, noting the number of in-state and out-of-state associations interested in being a part of the regional tournaments could push the number of tournaments as high as 25.
“By utilizing artificial turf on all of the playing surfaces and by having lights on all of the fields, we have made this complex almost weather-proof,” Strickland said. “Short of lightning, we can almost guarantee games will be played.”
Strickland and other key players in the development of the complex – located adjacent to U.S. 1 near Frederica -- spread that message Wednesday during a site tour attended by civic and governmental leaders from across Delaware and Maryland, as well as area residents interested in the progress of the facility.
The $24 million complex will feature 12 multi-purpose synthetic turf fields for soccer, lacrosse and other field sports. One of the 12 will be a championship stadium, with seating for about 750. All fields will feature lights and scoreboards, but only the championship field will have seats. An additional field set up for field hockey will be added later, officials said.
Strickland said the Kent County location is within a four-hour drive of more than 20 million people and that the complex, which is designed to draw travel teams from all across the central Mid-Atlantic, is on pace to be completed by Christmas. Currently, more than half of the 12 fields have turf. Each field costs about $1 million to build.
Wednesday, they announced the first major tournament – College Connection’s Shooting Star Field Hockey Tournament Showcase – scheduled for Easter weekend 2017.
“Shooting Star will bring to Delaware hundreds of visitors, who will spend money at hotels, restaurants and nearby attractions,” said DE Turf Executive Director Chris Giacomucci. “The showcase is the first of many events the complex will host.”
Officials also announced they hired three-time Olympian Rachel Dawson as the director of Field Hockey. Dawson recently played for the U.S. field hockey team at the Rio Olympics. In 2007, she was named Honda’s National Field Hockey Player of the Year.
“It’s an awesome opportunity,” Dawson said. “And it’s big for the sport and the area. My job is to bring them here and keep them here. That’s the goal.”
The project is bank-financed, with bonding assurances from the Kent County Levy Court also behind it, said Nicholas P. Lambrow of M&T Bank in Wilmington. He and Nicholas Adams of Wilmington Trust say the financing is unique because there is a built-in mechanism where there is a ramp-up period. Both believe the project puts Delaware on the map.
“There is a reserve fund in place if the facility can’t meet its payments,” Adams said. “We believe in the project, and in order for us to be a part of it, we had to have faith from the start.”
DE Turf is one of two sports complexes being built in Delaware. The privately funded 170-acre Delaware Sports Complex will be built on an irrigation spray field in the far southwestern corner of Middletown. Plans call for 20 multi-purpose fields, 16 baseball diamonds, five tennis courts and two indoor facilities — the larger being a 160,000-square-foot multi-sport room that will be able to fit a World Cup-sized indoor soccer field and three hard courts for volleyball and basketball and, possibly, an indoor track. Plans also call for a small stadium with bleacher seating for about 2,500 people.
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According to a study conducted by the University of Delaware concluded construction would employ 180 people and more than 2,000 jobs would be available during camp and tournament seasons, equivalent to 210 full-time jobs.
That is good news to Town of Frederica Mayor William Glanden, who believes the complex will bring new business to the area’s eateries and other establishments, and will also spark new discussions about growth within town and around the area.
“Business here will definitely feel the positive effects of the complex,” Glanden said. “In the last few years, there has been talk of new development on land we’ve annexed, but that stopped when the economy started to tank. I’m hopeful that those talks will now continue.”
Frederica resident Shawn McIlroy sees the positives of the project, but living just outside the northeast corner of the complex, he has concerns. Most of those concerns have to do with controlling the crowds and the increase in traffic.
“I’m not looking forward to the noise or the added traffic,” said McIlroy, who has lived in the house just off Bay Road for a year. “I’m going to have to put a privacy fence up not only for the noise but also for security reasons.”
McIlroy says most of the comments he has heard from locals have been negative. Topping the list, he says, is traffic.
“We’re excited about the progress we’ve made and what the future holds,” Strickland said. “The business community and recreational community in Central Delaware is ecstatic about this economic driver.”
Source : delawareonline.com