PHOTO: An example of a quad-baseball field, something Alderman Jeff Graves said he would like to see in the new sports complex.
Spring Hill Mayor Rick Graham announced on Monday evening the creation of the Spring Hill Sportsplex Task Force, a group dedicated to seeing the eventual sports complex in Spring Hill come to fruition.
Currently, Spring Hill does not have enough active ball fields to serve our population size, and many children simply are not able to play organized baseball/softball due to the high numbers, or have to play or participate outside of Spring Hill. The Sportsplex Task Force will serve as an advisory committee to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BOMA) to make non-binding recommendations about these facilities for the board’s consideration.
Mayor Graham has appointed the following members to the task force:
- Alderman Jeff Graves
- Planning Commissioner Paul Downing
- Former Alderman Jonathan Duda
- Former Alderman Clint McCain
- Tim Brister
- Jon Stephenson
- Rod Holliman
Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Fischer and his department staff also will provide staff expertise to the task force. The group’s first meeting will be announced when scheduled.
Along with a desire to strengthen Spring Hill’s quality of life and address the city’s sports field deficiency, the obvious positive economic impacts that come along with first class sports complexes is another significant consideration in the exploration of the project. These types of facilities attract regional and national tournaments, resulting in significant new spending to boost the local economy, and bring in additional tax revenue to help fund these types of developments.
A 2017 study by the National Association of Sports Commissioners noted:
- There was a $15.3 billion sports tourism industry in in the U.S. in 2017 (55% growth since 2010.)
- Youth sports tourism is the fastest growing segment in travel – 45+ million.
- Communities are supporting health and wellness (which complements the Spring Hill Mayor’s Healthy Challenge).
- Visitors spend an average of $250 a day at each event.
- The average family will spend $670 per year on sports related activities.
- Fast-growing sports include lacrosse (47%), roller hockey (38%), and ice hockey (19%.)
- Sports vacations for families or “Tourna-cations” are a fast-growing segment of sports tourism.
- About 70% of children ages 6-17 are playing team sports.
One of the first key steps in the city’s exploratory process will be to conduct a market feasibility study, along with evaluating the numerous case studies available to glean best practices on how to best approach planning, design, land acquisition, fundraising, partnerships, construction, and operations.
The initial significant investment would be purchasing a suitable land parcel with level topography, preferably outside of a floodplain. Key goals of such an initiative will include developing first-class facilities, leveraging existing tourism infrastructure (hotels, restaurants, shopping, etc.,) and creating homegrown events (tournaments, invitationals, etc.)
This new task force will be key in helping to establish the fact-finding research and context needed for the board to eventually consider a sportsplex in Spring Hill’s future.