On Your Mark... Get Set for Games to Begin
Hillsborough County's field of dreams for young athletes, also foreseen as a steady revenue generator for the area's economy, is almost completed.
County leaders and supporters of youth sports gathered Nov. 1 for a "progress celebration" at the soon-to-open Tournament SportsPlex, on Columbus Drive, between Tampa and Brandon.
The "tournament only" facility - 15 fields on 65 acres - is designed to host championship-caliber athletic events and teams from throughout the country. Major tournaments already are scheduled: The United States Flag & Touch Football League National Championship in January, and USA Field Hockey's National Hockey Festival in November 2019.
The sports complex, between U.S. 301 and Falkenburg Road, is close to interstates 4, 75, and 275. Tampa International Airport, Busch Gardens, Adventure Island, and the Florida Aquarium are 20 minutes away, or less. Disney World and the Pinellas County beaches are one-hour drives.
Tournament SportsPlex is expected to be a boon for local hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues. A feasibility study projects it will have an economic impact of $7.3 million in its first year, and $25 million in its fifth year.
The $17 million project is a collaboration among Hillsborough County, the Tampa Sports Authority, and the Tampa Bay Sports Commission. Eric Hart, president and CEO of the Tampa Sports Authority, which will manage the facility, calls it a winning team.
Hart says Tournament SportsPlex will have a dramatic effect on the local economy.
The fields, including 10 multipurpose playing surfaces and one championship field, are configured to accommodate many sports: soccer, lacrosse, football, field hockey, and even rugby and cricket.
The playing surface is Celebration Bermudagrass®. The complex has LED lighting, a vendor village area, bleachers, and wireless internet throughout. There's a state-of-the-art drainage system for the fields, lots of parking, and restrooms. A robotic field striper uses GPS to line the fields.
Though local leagues will not routinely use the complex, it will be available for all-star games, sports clinics, combines, and local and regional tournaments.