Portland breaks ground on new sports complex

22 December 2016

Portland Mayor David Krebs can't wait to umpire Little League baseball in 2018.

At the ground breaking for the city's new multiple-use sports complex in Municipal Park, the longtime umpire and former Little League board member said the youth of Portland deserve it.

"It means everything to us. When it was presented to us for the first time, it went beyond all my expectations," Krebs said. "It shows that we're concerned about the youth in Portland. This is a family community — we're building homes and families."

The sports complex will cost $17.9 million and will be ready for youth football in September 2017. More than $14 million in general obligation bonds, a type of municipal bond, and $3.5 million will be paid for by a 2015 sale of city bonds, said Mona Gandy, director of marketing and communications.

A football field, multiple softball/baseball fields, batting cages, grassy practice area, several covered areas and bleachers, concession area and splash pad with a playground will be built in the next several months. The fields can be used for multiple sports depending on the time of year. It should be ready for the fall 2017 football season.

"This is a football town, and in the past we've had fields for every (youth) sport except for football," said Jimmie Dooms, who runs the Gregory-Portland youth football league. "This will be a field for them to call their own — their home."

Portland officials hold a groundbreaking for its improvedBuy Photo

Portland officials hold a groundbreaking for its improved Sports Complex at its Municipal Park at 1815 Memorial Parkway on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016. (Photo: Courtney Sacco/Caller-Times)

Dooms served on a steering committee with other youth sports leaders to figure out exactly what their community needed. He lent his knowledge on how many bleachers would be needed, the number of people who attend games and the type of turf to use.

"It started real small, but we told them that 3,000 people come to youth football games. They expanded the plan," Dooms said.

Krebs said they would not have considered artificial turf on any of the fields but went with the recommendation by the steering committee. He said it will save money in the long-run in field upkeep. "It was tremendous input," he said.

The youth sports facilities have not been renovated in more than 30 years, Krebs said. The football team plays games at the Gregory-Portland high school stadium.

Ten-year-olds Kade Adams and Reed Dooms are excited to play in the new sports complex. They were on the Super Bowl junior championship winning team, the Wildcats, in November.

"It means the world to the kids to have their own place," Dooms said.