Sports complexes around the country might have hosted fewer events or even remained closed throughout 2020, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. But a slew of new facilities still are slated to break ground in 2021. Many of those complexes are expected to open in 2022 — hopefully in a post-COVID environment.
Here is a brief rundown of some of the facilities in the works:
Louisiana: A $30 million project years in the planning stages might finally get underway this year in West Jefferson, La. The website nola.com reports that “[t]he 94-acre complex, financed by the state and to be operated by Jefferson Parish when completed in 2022, will include batting cages, a playground, a shaded pavilion, two baseball fields and five multi-purpose fields for baseball, softball, flag football and soccer in its first two phases, which will be done together, according to documents from the parish and the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District, the entity that manages the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and the Smoothie King Center.” Added Jefferson Parish Recreation Director Mario Bazile:“This is meant to be an economic driver for the region. It’s a real push to be a regional player in travel sports.”
Pennsylvania: On Christmas Eve, Pennsylvania state lawmakers authorized a $2 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant for the seven-field Wiliamsport Ballpark project. Slated to begin in 2021, the $16 million project will transform a city trash dump and commercial site, according to the Williamsport Sun-Gazette. High-profile regional baseball and softball events are expected to pump $10 million into the local economy, Jason Fink, president and chief executive officer of the Williamsport/Lycoming County Chamber of Commerce, told the newspaper. Williamsport, home of the Little League World Series (which was canceled in 2020), is already considered a hotbed for both sports, and this project is designed to “ensure Lycoming County can be a larger part of that economic opportunity,” according to one of the state senators who advocated for the grant.
Tennessee: The Mid-South Fairgrounds in Memphis has been rebranded as Liberty Park, which will be transformed into a multiuse area anchored by a $40 million, 227,000-square-foot youth sports complex and a 120-room hotel. The complex will include indoor basketball and volleyball courts and be able to accommodate other sports such as wrestling, gymnastics and cheerleading. A cafe and concessions area, outdoor turf fields and a playground also are part of the design plans. “What we’re banking on is that the world could return to some level of normalcy by the fall of 2022,” Mary Claire Borys, director of strategic initiatives for the City of Memphis Division of Housing and Community Development, told the Commercial Appeal. “We feel pretty confident that in two years from now … everybody [will be] having basketball and volleyball tournament[s].”
Texas: A planned addition to the Sports Complex at Shadow Creek Ranch in Pearland is expected to accommodate cricket and rugby, as well as provide a new multipurpose field for athletes with disabilities, according to local officials. The $10 million project also will include a 4,300-square-foot concessions building, locker rooms, restroom facilities and huddle rooms, a 2,200-square-foot maintenance building and 250 additional parking spaces, the Houston Chronicle reported. “The Phase II additions to the complex are expected to be completed in late 2021; the new fields will open to league sports play in spring 2022,” the newspaper added. “The complex already offers ballfields for youth and adult play as well as a playground and an amphitheater.”
Illinois: Surge, a $30 million esports arena in Chicago near McCormick Place, will feature a video canvas that spans 35 feet high and 85 feet wide, according to the Chicago Tribune, and spectators will be able to sit in suite-like areas and have food and drinks delivered to them. “What we’re doing is not like anything else in the world, as far as esports stadiums,” Scott Greenberg, president of real-estate developer ECD Co., told the newspaper.
Other facilities are currently under construction and slated to at least partially open in 2021. They include:
• Legacy Sports Park, a $250 million, 320-acre privately owned sports and entertainment facility in Mesa, Ariz., will feature 24 soccer fields, 62 indoor volleyball courts, 40 pickleball courts, 15 indoor basketball courts, eight baseball and softball fields, a 75,000-square-foot esports arena, a 50,000-square-foot arena for gymnastics, cheerleading and dance, and more.
• A new indoor sports facility in Franklin Wis., near Milwaukee, will offer a full football field and become the latest feature at the Rock Sports Complex. It is expected to accommodate both football and soccer when it opens in February.
• The Podium, a $53 million, 135,000-square-foot complex in Spokane, Wash., will feature a 200-meter banked hydraulic track, basketball and volleyball courts, wrestling mats and spectator seating for up to 4,000.