Dover City Council unanimously agreed to give its documented support to the Greater Dover Committee’s quest to construct the Kent County Sports Complex.
Greater Dover Committee President Tom Burns and members Bill Strickland and Gregg Moore came before council Monday night to give an outline of the public-private partnership that aims to build a $17.7 million, 85-acre athletic field complex near Frederica on the northeast corner of Del. Route 1 (Bay Highway) and Milford Neck Road.
Based on feasibility studies performed by the firms of Brailsford & Dunlavy of Washington, D.C. and Don Schumacher & Associates Inc. of Cincinnati, Ohio, the committee is convinced that the sports complex would be the "economic engine" that brings $18 million in revenue to central Delaware, Strickland said.
The idea for the sports complex was first presented to Levy Court in 2009 by Delaware Tourism Office Director Linda Parkowski, said Strickland, chairman of the economic development subcommittee. The Greater Dover Committee has since run with the idea. The committee defines Greater Dover as the areas composed of the Capital and Caesar Rodney school districts.
Frederica was chosen as the ideal site for the complex because the town is within a two-hour driving radius of 10 million people, Srickland said. That is important because the committee envisions the site as a haven for field hockey and lacrosse tournaments, which draw families out to watch youths play.
“It’s largely recession proof,” he said. “The one thing people still spend their money on even in challenging economic times is their children.”
Among the local businesses that would benefit from the tournaments the complex would attract are hotels and restaurants, he added.
In addition, the complex has been endorsed by Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association Executive Director Kevin Charles as way to bring more field hockey and lacrosse fields to the state, Strickland said. And Delaware Technical & Community College, Delaware State University, Wesley College and local youth soccer and lacrosse leagues could possibly use these fields.
The complex would include a 1,500 seat championship lacrosse or field hockey field, a 36,000-square foot building complete with an indoor turf field and 15 total grass and artificial turf fields, said Moore, an engineer with Becker Morgan and immediate past president of the Greater Dover Committee.
Kent County Levy Court is donating the 85 acres on which the complex would be built. The Greater Dover Committee is attempting to secure approval from Levy Court to create a public corporation that would oversee the complex, similar to the way the Delaware Stadium Corp. oversees Frawley Stadium in Wilmington, Strickland said.
Page 2 of 2 - The Delaware Stadium Corp. is a public incorporation that owns the real estate that is part of the Riverfront in Wilmington as well as Frawley Stadium, which sits on that land. It leases the stadium to the Wilmington Blue Rocks, a single A Minor League baseball club affiliated with the Kansas City Royals. The Delaware Stadium Corp. was created with monies from the State of Delaware, New Castle County and the City of Wilmington.
The Greater Dover Committee believes the same concept would work in Kent County by creating a public, non-stock, non-profit corporation, Prickett, Jones & Elliott attorney John W. Paradee has said. Namely, the public would own the corporation.
The Greater Dover Committee’s pitch to create a public corporation that would run the proposed, $17.7 million Kent County Sports Complex has the tentative support of Kent County Levy Court thanks to a show of hands at the court’s last committee meeting held Sept. 6.
If the committee obtains formal approval Tuesday night, the committee will then present the names of three for profit entities that could possibly be tenants, Strickland said.
Councilman David Anderson (Fourth District) asked what the committee needed from Dover City Council. Strickland then requested an endorsement.
Councilman James L. Hutchison Sr. (First District) then moved to grant that endorsement, calling the complex “a very important project.”
Council President Thomas J. Leary (At Large) asked if a letter from council would be sufficient; Strickland agreed.