New sports complexes could be big boon
Central Pennsylvania is slowly looking like the next hotbed for indoor and outdoor sports venues.
Spooky Nook Sports, which is under construction and slated for a March opening in East Hempfield Township, is expected to be the largest indoor sports complex in North America.
And, in addition to the collection of existing training and competition venues across the region, a new Dauphin County sportsplex that would cater more to the outdoor side of things via regional tournaments has moved beyond the study phase.
Washington, D.C.-based Brailsford & Dunlavey, the firm hired by the nonprofit Mid State Alliance, released its projected cost last month to develop a complex in Dauphin County at nearly $13 million in today's dollars.
Factor in land acquisition to accommodate 13 outdoor fields and a 7,560-square-foot clubhouse, and the projection jumps to around $16 million.
The nonprofit is confident it will be able to put together the right team to raise the funds. Of course, some additional public support might be needed from the county when a construction plan begins to take shape.
With the growing population base in Central Pennsylvania and our proximity to other major metropolitan areas — aided by a fairly robust highway system that passes through this area — I can't say I'm surprised by the interest in developing new facilities.
The new facilities have the potential to add a lot to the local economy. Just look at the youth sporting events area tourism agencies and special event venues already are bringing to town.
In some cases, we're talking multiple-day tournaments. And then factor in the families that come with the participants.
Of course, the offseason training aspect that many of these venues provide can't be overlooked either. That keeps our local teams local, which supports those existing businesses and creates potential to draw outside leagues to our area for training needs.
The outstanding question that remains for projects like the MSA concept is how long it takes to make it a reality. The projection is 2016. There is still no clear-cut direction as far as how the operations of the facility would be handled.
I wonder what a 60-acre sports complex in Dauphin County would do for development of additional hospitality properties between Harrisburg and Hershey. According to the report, the county has more than 75 lodging properties and 7,800 hotel rooms.
It might be time to invest.