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Multi-sport complex in the works for Cumberland County

A large multi-sport complex could be coming to the Carlisle area as local economic development officials look to tap into the growing market for youth sports and replicate the success of destinations like Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster County.

The Cumberland Area Economic Development Corp. (CAEDC) said it has an agreement to buy a nearly 89-acre tract of farmland in South Middleton Township for the proposed complex. A CAEDC subsidiary, the Real Estate Collaborative LLC, would be buying the property.

An early concept plan was presented to the township planning commission on Tuesday night. The tract, known as the Otto property, is on Lisburn Road, between York and West Trindle roads.

CAEDC CEO Jonathan Bowser said the proposed facility would not be as big as Spooky Nook in East Hempfield Township, which is more than 700,000 square feet.

“We’re talking probably 170,000 square feet,” he said, adding he is unsure how much it might cost. Initial estimates were pegged at $15 million to $30 million, he said.

The intent is to attract many of the same sports to Cumberland County as Spooky Nook brings to Lancaster.

The CAEDC plan calls for building a complex with at least eight indoor sport courts and eight outdoor artificial turf fields that could serve a variety of sports. They would include field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, football, basketball and volleyball.

CAEDC said it sees opportunities for Central Pennsylvania to host more youth tournaments, which can drive overnight hotel stays and boost visitor spending in the area. Cumberland County could attract sports tournaments that might not be able to get into larger venues like Spooky Nook, Bowser said. Other venues might not be big enough.

“We want to be in that sweet spot of being not too big, but also not too small,” he said. “We see this as a regional asset that complements Spooky Nook and smaller sports complexes as well.” 

The plan also envisions adding other recreational activities, including rock climbing, ziplines and walking trails, hoping to appeal to a wider audience looking for more amenities in fast-growing Cumberland County. In addition, CAEDC is working with potential development partners to include a hotel and restaurant at the site, as well as a fitness center and sports medicine component. 

The price tag will depend on the final design of the facilities, including the size of the hotel, and infrastructure costs tied to road and utility connections, Bowser said.

The proposed complex also could rely heavily on state funding, including grant and loan programs, which may be needed to help cover offsite and onsite infrastructure work, Bowser said. The facility also would need construction approval from the township.

A construction start is at least 18 months to 24 months away, Bowser said.

The site is near a new connector road planned to be built between York and Trindle roads and not far from Interstate 81. 

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