SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Dirt is turning and dust is flying on a new sports complex project on the city’s northwest side.
“To see drawings for a year has been one thing but then to see grass in place and turf going down, things like that, are just a dream come true, said Eric Sorlie, Executive Director of Coaching at Sporting Springfield, an Academy Affiliate of Sporting KC.
Springfield Sporting, a local youth soccer club, will be an anchor at the Betty and Bobby Allison Sports Town.
Sorlie stated, “I have friends in my role in bigger cities who are like, hey man…when you get that built, we are coming. We want to come and be a part of that. It looks like it will be amazing.”
The old farm pasture on Chestnut Expressway and Airport Boulevard is giving way to fields of another kind…those for soccer. A massive indoor facility will have basketball and volleyball courts.
“A lot of our teams have to travel to Kansas City, St. Louis, Tulsa, Memphis to get quality games. And another advantage is those people will want to return the favor and will want to come to Springfield to be a part of such a quality facility,” Sorlie said,
Location was the key for the developer. The site is near I-44 and close to Springfield-Branson National Airport.
“We opened that terminal in 2009 which was a little bit of a rough time economically. Sometimes these things take a little longer than planned,” said Sarah Kerner, Economic Development Director for the City of Springfield.
Believing in the project and its economic benefits, the Springfield City Council approved $2-million dollars for public site improvements.
Kerner explained, “Different projects take different partnership forms. Sometimes you have to negotiate and figure out what’s the right fit for a particular project.” She added, “The city wants to work with developers and see them succeed and also doing something that we are being good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”
The developer already has plans for hotels, restaurants, and retail shops on the site.
Sorlie said, “I think this is going to be a great thing for the city. For basketball, volleyball, soccer. he continued, “It will be a home for young people and an opportunity for all ages and all sports to be a part of something that is representative of what kids in the bigger cities already have.”