SBD/August 1, 2017/Facilities

Communities Take Notice Of Business Booming Around State-Of-Art Youth Sports Complexes

A Westfield, Ind. community in '14 constructed a 400-acre, $49M complex
Youth sports travel is "scoring big" as communities across the U.S. build multisport complexes "crammed with state-of-the-art fields, rinks and courts in hopes of drawing not only tournaments for kids crazy about sports -- but also parents who spend big on transportation, hotels, food and family entertainment," according to Terrance Harris of the AP. Across the country, communities are "reinventing themselves as youth sports travel destinations, following a model that Disney helped launch 20 years ago with a sprawling sports complex." In '14, in Westfield, Ind., a community of 30,000 opened a 400-acre, $49M sports complex, the "largest publicly funded complex of its kind at the time." It has "exceeded revenue expectations." Florida's Seminole County decided on building its facility "despite facing competition for regional and national youth events from The National Training Center in Clermont, Florida, and from the Disney facility in Kissimmee." That the youth complex industry is "'recession-proof' has been a talking point for developers and town councils" over the past several years. The Sports Force & Fields Dir of Business Development Jim Arnold said, "More teams are going each and every year, because the one thing we found is families will always invest in their kids no matter what." In Lexington, Ky. the Bluegrass Sports Commission is planning to build a $30M complex with baseball, soccer, football and "other kinds of multiuse fields, as soon as a location can be settled on." But Amateur Athletic Union CEO Roger Goudy "sees the potential for oversaturation if building continues at today's rate." Goudy: "It's going to come to a point where there is going to be a glut of these things and it's hard to pay the bill. It is a competitive marketplace" (AP, 7/30). 
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