Ground-breaking for Kent sports complex set for autumn

FREDERICA — Plans for the Kent County Regional Sports Complex are moving forward quickly, thanks to the collaborative efforts of local organizers and state and county officials.
Bill Strickland, part of the Greater Kent Committee that’s driving the project designed to bring a major economic impact to the area, said organizers aim to break ground on the 13-field, 80-acre, venture this fall.
The first sports tournament is projected for the fall of 2016, if the current schedule holds, officials said.
Another $2 million in cost was added to the original $24 million needed to build the complex, with a temporary entry-exit off Del. 1 required to bring easy access.
Managing partner Gregg Moore, whose Becker Morgan Group is designing the complex and its entrance, said construction will take 12 to 14 months to complete. Artificial turf and lighted fields are part of the package, designed to draw large-scale youth sports tournaments to Kent County, along with other regular events.
Projected sports that can use the fields include soccer, lacrosse, football and field hockey, organizers said. A field hockey field would be constructed in the second phase of the project, Mr. Moore said, bringing a 13th playing surface to the complex.
Mr. Moore, a longtime advocate of the complex through the Greater Kent Committee, and Delaware Department of Transportation officials have worked closely together as the design for the entrance was planned; the entry is seen as temporary until the state builds the South Frederica Interchange in Fiscal Year 2017, he said.
“It’s full steam ahead,” Mr. Moore said. “We’re in the beginning design and permitting phase of our facility, and I’m very positive about the future of the project.”
A key component of the project broke ground Friday with a ceremony for the Thompsonville Grade Separated Intersection two miles to the south, which will serve as a connector to the sports complex with a crossover to head back north after passing by on Del. 1.
“The Thompsonville project is underway and that’s great for the sports complex,” Mr. Strickland said. “As an economic component for Kent County, it’s a great day.”
The project advanced quickly, Mr. Strickland said, to stay ahead of possible regional sports complex construction elsewhere.
The project’s consultant, CHA Sports, said construction needs to be complete in two years or less to take advantage of the timing for a facility of its kind.
“We’re moving forward in a good direction and expedited manner,” he said. “If we don’t, we’re going to lose our competitive edge.”
Mr. Moore said he met with the Kent County Division of Planning regarding the complex site plan and review; also, a favorable reaction came from the state of Delaware’s Preliminary Land Use Service, he said.
“We’re gearing up to have the design review and all permits in hand by early fall,” according to Mr. Moore.
Mr. Strickland said the Kent County Regional Sports Complex Corp. would announce a board of directors in the early spring.
Currently the Greater Kent Committee is acting as the projects agent.
The added $2 million due to the temporary entrance is challenging, but feasible, Mr. Strickland said.
“Anytime you add cost, it’s a consideration,” he said. “We’ve done the numbers and feel it’s a manageable debt service for us.”
Mr. Strickland said final details on project financing will be presented by the Greater Kent Committee in the next 60 to 90 days.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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