Study to examine sports facilities


Seymour will pay for a feasibility study to determine if there is a need for more or expanded public sports facilities in the city.

The study will be completed by GAI Consultants at a price not to exceed $42,450.

Matt Wirth with GAI said Thursday it will take at least six months to collect data from public surveys and meetings along with studying sports facilities in surrounding communities.

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The survey results will be used to help city officials decide whether to spend taxpayer money to build a new sports complex or add playing fields to existing parks, including Freeman Field and Kasting.

Mayor Craig Luedeman said he and parks staff believe there may be a need for more soccer fields and baseball/softball diamonds to host both youth and adult league tournaments.

Large tournaments bring hundreds of people to a community and put money into the local economy through tourism dollars when those people stay in hotels, shop and eat here, Luedeman said.

The city recently created a position in the parks and recreation department to manage and facilitate athletic leagues and tournaments in an effort to schedule more activities throughout the playing seasons.

Some people say the city shouldn’t limit options and should consider facilities for other sports, including track and field, tennis, basketball, volleyball, wrestling, gymnastics and even martial arts. Most of those sports would require an indoor facility to be built.

Luedeman said he doesn’t want to go forward with any project without knowing how much it could cost, if there’s enough real estate available and if it’s what the public wants.

“That’s why we are doing this study, to find out if it makes sense for our community and if it’s even feasible for us to go forward,” he said.

Dustin Bohall of Seymour said people just need to look at other communities with sports complexes to see the benefits.

“Go to a town that hosts tournaments on weekends in the spring, summer and fall. Town restaurants, movie theaters, etc. are packed. Sounds great for local businesses,” he said.

Cara Valdivia of Seymour said she would be in favor of a new sports complex being built here so that she doesn’t have to travel so far for her daughter’s soccer tournaments.

“It would be great,” she said. “My daughter does travel soccer, and the facilities we play at are wonderful; however, it’s usually a long drive. It would definitely boost the economy during tournaments. We spend a small fortune at the hotels and restaurants.”

Angie Mellencamp, who owns a local gymnastics facility in Seymour, said she thinks having more athletics options available to the public is a good idea and could help attract more people to the community.

“I have hundreds of kids a week come through my gym for cheerleading and gymnastics. A facility that could accommodate multiple sports would do well here,” she said.

Wirth said building or expanding the facilities might not be feasible, however.

“That’s one of the things we want to look at, too, before the city invests a ton of money in a bunch of new fields, kind of an ‘If you build it will they come’ scenario,” he said.

GAI, which has offices in Fort Wayne, Indianapolis and Scottsburg, was involved in building ESPN Park in Orlando, Florida, and has helped with a number of minor-league baseball fields across the country.

“We are going to get a comprehensive report that says what we should do and how we should do it,” Luedeman said. “We are not doing a study just to do a study.”

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