City looking at $20 million sports complex near arena
At one point, the $340 million arena project proposed to Lincoln voters included new sports fields up north by Haymarket Park, but as the election got closer, arena coordinators took that part out of the proposal.
I thought they’d lose a lot of soccer mom votes doing that, but as it turned out arena supporters still advertised the sports fields as being part of the plan, since they would “eventually” probably get built anyway. I call that false advertising, but we agreed to disagree.
Anyway, now that voters have approved the mammoth arena project, talk has returned to those sports fields. Parks Director Lynn Johnson said the city is looking at building a “tournament sports complex” north of the arena, near Oak Lake, to add to the much-loved concept of a sports triangle (Memorial Stadium, Haymarket Park and the arena).
Johnson says they consider the Mid-America Sports Complex in Shawnee, Kan., to be a good model. That 70-acre, 12-field softball complex hosts softball leagues, baseball leagues, baseball camps and national and regional softball tournaments.
Speaking as a baseball mom, Lincoln could use a few more fields to play on, and the ability to host tournaments would bring people to Lincoln — and presumably, its stores. But there are already a number of such facilities in the region, Johnson said, so to make Lincoln’s a little better, they’ll likely recommend it have all artificial turf to guarantee play.
What would this cost? Johnson says $18 to $20 million — but he thinks it would generate enough revenue to offset the cost. That sounds like a revenue bond to me. He says a proposal for the sports complex “should come forward in the next few years.”