The Harrisburg City Islanders need construction to start around January 2015 to reach their goal of playing in a new stadium on the island in the 2016 season, CEO Eric Pettis said today.
Funding for the estimated $14 million stadium is the next big task.
Team officials, along with Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse and Dauphin County commissioners, today unveiled the findings of a $25,000 feasibility study that was paid for using county gaming grants.
"It makes sense for the city. It makes sense for the community," Pettis said of the vision, which includes a 4,500-seat multiuse stadium that could also serve as a concert venue and a youth development center.
The study projects annual visitation of 156,000 and spending of nearly $4 million per year in the local economy. The stadium would increase the team's direct spending to nearly $3.4 million as well as create direct employment of nearly 200 jobs, including the construction project.
The projection also found that state and local tax revenue would be more than $1 million during construction of the facility and $910,000 each year — more than five times that of the current facility. Harrisburg could expect to generate as much as $191,000 annually in amusement taxes.
Officials will pursue a mix of public and private funds to build the stadium, Pettis said. That would include naming rights and other private investment, as well as matching state funds that could be available and owner equity, he said. The team's affiliation with the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer could also spark some additional investment from MLS.
"This game as a spectator sport is here," Pettis said.
The team explored other land opportunities in the area, but felt City Island was the best place for the club moving forward, he added: "We're part of Harrisburg. We don't want to leave."
A new stadium for the City Islanders would attract more families and bolster the island's appeal as a destination, Papenfuse said.
The recovering capital city will not be helping to finance or guarantee any part of the project, the mayor said.