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Future Youth Sports Complex seen as moneymaker, fuel for growth
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Melvin Cooper, head of the Gainesville Parks and Recreation Department, points to a cluster of six ball fields in the master plan of a Youth Sports Complex in the design stage. Construction of the complex on a 190-acre site off Allen Creek Road could begin in 2019. - photo by Carlos Garlarza

Design of a $6.75 million Youth Sports Complex remains on track and plans are unchanged from the original concept, according to the head of the Gainesville Parks and Recreation Department.

When completed, the cluster of six baseball and softball fields, concession building and parking lot will be a revenue maker, said Melvin Cooper, the parks and recreation director.

“We’re hoping to be an economic impact generator for us, too,” Cooper said. “It’s not only these six fields, but the four fields we have at City Park to help us have larger tournaments.”

The new facility would be next door to the existing soccer complex off of Allen Creek Road. Cooper sees the regional sports conglomerate driving economic development in the area.

“We hope that it will have an impact on the (Ga.) 129 corridor as well,” Cooper said. “Maybe with the development of this regional sports complex out there that it will bring hotels and motels, restaurants, and help the growth of the 129 corridor. We’ve seen that happen in other areas.”

Lose & Associates Inc. architects are designing the project and a 50 percent schematic design review of their work was completed last month, Cooper said.

Revenues from a 1-cent per dollar sales tax increase approved by voters in 2015 is paying for the project, which is at the bottom of the totem pole among other city projects being paid for with the sales tax.

Cooper said the timeline for the project calls for the design phase to continue through 2018 and construction in fiscal 2019 and 2020.

Outside of the $6.75 million for the project, the parks and recreation board allocated $450,000 additional funds from impact fees to get the architectural and engineering and construction documents work done for a total cost of $7.2 million, Cooper said.

“This way, when we do start construction, we’re ready to go without any delay,” he said.

Regional events