Lexington, Kentucky, may soon become a hotspot for youth sports – if the Bluegrass Sports Commission can manage to win approval for a proposed 130-acre youth sports complex for baseball, softball, soccer more.
The commission is hoping a vote of confidence will be spurred by a new report that estimates the new complex could generate as much as $23 million a year in revenue for Fayette County from youth sports tourism dollars for Lexington hotels, restaurants and other businesses. The report, commissioned and paid for by the Bluegrass Sports Commission and prepared by Hunden Strategic Partners, also estimates that the new complex would draw 7,000 teams a year and generate 50,000 hotel stays.
The idea to use the site as a youth sports complex is not a new one, but it has taken a decade to bring to fruition. The Bluegrass Sports Commission believes it’s in a strong position now, since it has data to back up its idea that youth sports tourism is a moneymaker, even in a depressed economy.
Proposed funding for the project would be a combination of public and private dollars. The commission has committed to a seven-figure private capital campaign to pay for part of the cost to build the complex. It will also ask the city for $18 million for the project, according to Beth Musgrave writing for the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Phil Holoubek, a Bluegrass Sports Commission member, has told city officials that nearby communities are weighing similar sports complexes, so now is the time to act. The commission said the project has already garnered interest from Fayette County schools.
“This will give the city an immediate return on investment of $23 million a year,” Holoubek told the Lexington Herald-Leader.
The proposed project would add to other area youth sports initiatives. Last month, the city celebrated the opening of The Lexington Fieldhouse, an indoor sports facility that will be used primarily for indoor youth soccer. The 27,000-square-foot multipurpose, turf-surfaced recreational facility is in northwest Lexington at the Lexington Optimist Recreation Complex, and it features a turf-surfaced playing area that can be split in two with a retractable mechanical curtain and a narrower public area with concrete flooring.
The site chosen for the proposed complex is currently owned by the city, and is adjacent to Cardinal Run South, a city-owned baseball field.