Dirk McCormick and Steve Luker, the founders of Legacy Pointe Development, expressed their excitement and a sense of rejuvenation at the groundbreaking ceremony for the future Scheels Sports Park in Springfield, Illinois. The event marked the completion of chapter one of the project, but McCormick emphasized that there is still a lot of hard work ahead before the grand opening.
The multisport outdoor and indoor development, spanning 95 acres, is set to host its first tournaments for youth traveling teams in the spring of 2025. The sports complex will feature synthetic turf multi-purpose fields that can be configured into baseball, softball, soccer, football, and lacrosse fields. The highlight of the development is a 190,000-square-foot air-supported dome, which is considered to be the largest of its kind in the world. The dome will facilitate year-round sports activities such as basketball, volleyball, and pickleball.
Local tourism officials estimate that the sports park will generate approximately $30 million in new spending annually. Apart from hosting tournaments on weekends, the complex will be utilized by local user groups including Springfield District 186, Springfield Park District, Springfield Area Soccer Association (SASA), and The Hitting Center. The project has received tremendous support from its pinnacle partners, Scheels and Springfield Clinic.
Ryan McCrady, president and CEO of the Springfield Sangamon Growth Alliance, acknowledged the immense effort and faith that were crucial in bringing the project to fruition. McCrady has often represented Luker and McCormick and defended against skeptics who doubted the project would materialize. While the process has required several adjustments and pivots over the years, McCrady stressed that the outcome is what truly matters, and they have successfully reached that point.
The total cost of the project is estimated to be between $65 and $70 million, and the city of Springfield has provided assistance through a hotel-motel tax incentive. Sports Facilities Companies, based in Clearwater, Florida, will be responsible for the operations of the complex and will manage everything, from maintenance to event organization.
The role of the sports park in benefiting the local community extends beyond hosting sporting events. Springfield District 186 will have access to the fields and courts for practices and games at a preferred rate, which will greatly benefit high school and middle school teams. Jennifer Gill, the superintendent of District 186, expressed her excitement about the project and highlighted the opportunities it will provide for student-athletes, especially in adverse weather conditions.
Mayor Misty Buscher emphasized the significance of the sports park for sports tourism in Springfield. It will attract visitors to the city who have never been before, putting Springfield on the map as a destination for sports events. The groundbreaking ceremony took place in the same week Breeze Airways announced direct flights from Springfield to Orlando and Tampa Bay, further highlighting the positive momentum for the city.
In his remarks, McCrady thanked Luker and McCormick for their ambition and willingness to take risks, highlighting that this project will not only change how Springfield sees itself but also how others perceive the city. He emphasized the importance of collaboration between the private sector, public sector, local governments, and financial institutions in achieving such ambitious projects.
The future Scheels Sports Park in Springfield, Illinois, represents a significant investment in the local community and a testament to the power of collaboration and determination. With its state-of-the-art facilities and year-round sports offerings, the sports park is set to attract visitors, generate economic growth, and provide much-needed opportunities for local athletes.