The countdown to game time at the Mid-Atlantic’s next marquee sports complex has begun.
On Wednesday, officials gathered at the site of the Kent County Regional Sports Complex off Del. 1 in Frederica to announce a slew of updates and let the community know this major project is making some huge leaps forward.
The Central Delaware Soccer Association has signed on to play their games at the complex, which will boast 15 fields - including a championship lit turf field with a capacity of 1,500 - and an indoor complex. The multipurpose facility will become a hub for soccer, field hockey and lacrosse when it is completed and ready for play sometime in 2014.
"We couldn’t think of a more perfect organization to one day call this complex home," said Bill Strickland, president of the Greater Dover Committee. "The CDSA is the premiere sports organization here in the heart of Delaware, and moving into the Kent County Regional Sports Complex will allow it to grow and have an even greater presence."
The Kent County Regional Sports Complex, to be built on a 100-acre parcel donated by Kent County, will be a recession-proof economic driver that hosts at least 10 major annual sports tournaments, drawing players and their families from throughout the region. It is projected to have an economic impact of more than $18 million annually in Delaware.
"This vacant property we’re standing on now will one day be a place where kids from all over the region become leaders and heroes," said Alan Levin, director of the Delaware Economic Development Office. "In two years or so, families will be talking about the next big tournament they’ll be traveling to in central Delaware. This is going to be huge for tourism."
The complex will also provide a boost for employment in Central Delaware.
During the first year of the project, 180 construction jobs will be created, and more than 2,000 jobs will be created during tournaments and camps, which will equal 210 full-time continuing jobs, according to a study by the University of Delaware.
"This is a great day for Kent County," said Kent County Commissioner Brooks Banta. "This complex not only adds an immediate boost to the community but also projects out to sustain itself through any ups and downs the economy might experience."
Also at Wednesday’s event, dubbed The Kent County Regional Sports Complex Kick-Off, it was announced that Dover-based Becker Morgan Group has been brought on as project manager.
Officials said Becker Morgan will soon begin sending out Requests for Proposals for concessionaires, an outdoor operator, a construction firm and an executive director. Construction on infrastructure is slated to begin in mid-2013.
"A lot of people have put a lot of work into this project," said Sen. Brian Bushweller, the lead legislative supporter of the project since its inception. "And although there’s still work to be done, it’s clear now that we are moving forward."
A drum line from Delaware State University provided the musical backdrop at Wednesday’s event as players from the CDSA tried the field out and Milford High School cheerleaders showed their Delaware spirit.
Olympian and Rehoboth Beach native Carrie Lingo, who played on the 2008 U.S. Women’s National Field Hockey Team and starred at Cape Henlopen High School, was also on hand. She said that having a venue like the Kent County Regional Sports Complex around would have been huge for her as a young athlete.
"I would have been there every day," Lingo said. "Not only is this going to boost Delaware sports and help the local economy, but local athletes are big winners as well."
Meetings on the Kent County Regional Sports Complex began three years ago and, in July, the Delaware Infrastructure Investment Committee approved more than $3.2 million in state funding, which paved the way for the project to move forward.
The Delaware Tourism Office, 99 Kings Highway in Dover, Del., a division of the Delaware Economic Development Office, promotes tourism and economic growth in Delaware. For more information, visit the official Delaware Tourism website at www.visitdelaware.com or call toll-free (866) 284-7483.