Game on: First Phase Of Youth Sports Complex Complete

Thursday, Jun 30, 2016

CANTON What had been a high school baseball diamond and a field of grass last year is now the site of two artificial turf fields that will host some of the nation’s most promising athletes.

 The two multipurpose fields, along with an existing grass football field, make up the first phase of the $22 million National Football & Youth Sports Complex, which is expected to attract more than 200,000 players and families when it’s finished in 2018. The complex is one of the eight major components of the planned $500 million Hall of Fame Village.

Steve Strawbridge, senior vice president for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, said up to six additional fields will be built in phases over the next two years on the 25-acre site. The fields sit south of McKinley High School and are bordered by 17th Street, Harrison Avenue, Hellen Place and Clarendon Avenue NW. The eastern portion of the area commonly is known as Don Scott Field. It is named after the former McKinley High School star and two-time All-American Ohio State University quarterback who died in 1943 when his bomber crashed while he was training as a pilot during World War II.

Developers currently are seeking clearance from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to eliminate a forested wetland area that exists on the property, which is owned by the Canton City School District. Their plan includes offsetting the environmental impact by restoring and improving nearby Canton City parks.

Distinguishing factors

Strawbridge said each of the new fields will be covered with an NFL-grade artificial turf and will be lined for football, soccer, and lacrosse. Synthetic turf also is expected to be installed next year at the grass field.

All fields will have bleacher-style seating for 150 people, as well as space along the sidelines to allow spectators to bring chairs and blankets. One of the fields will be designated a championship field and will boast 3,000 bleacher seats as well as a larger scoreboard. Strawbridge said championship games eventually could be moved into the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, which is undergoing an $80 million reconstruction that is expected to be completed in July 2017.

Each of the fields will be equipped with lights and the latest technology, Strawbridge said. Among the new features will be video capabilities that would allow a coach or parent to zoom in and follow a specific player on the field.

A football-field-sized concourse also is being planned that will include areas for medical services as well as food, beverage, and merchandise sales. Strawbridge said the area still is being designed, but could include a combination of a single-story permanent building and the use of mobile carts.

Strawbridge believes each of the planned features will distinguish the complex from the other youth fields that exist.


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