Council wants to get a handle on what residents want
If the town of Stallings goes ahead with plans for a Sportsplex, the concept will be slightly different than originally planned. Referring to it as a “recreational facility”, Mayor Lynda Paxton said during the council’s Monday, Aug. 8 meeting that things had changed.
“We’re focusing on this more as a recreational amenity for the town, rather than a lot of tournament play, probably thinking a little smaller scale,” Paxton said.
The original plan called for the town to purchase an 83 acre parcel of land, then work with National Amateur Sports to build a minimum of four outdoor athletic fields plus the actual complex.
Additionally, Paxton said if the town did move forward with the project, the financial model would be
altered, with the town looking to lease property rather than giving it to the groups. Under the proposed contract, the town would have spent $3 million to purchase 62 acres at the corner of Stevens Mill and Stallings roads, with the remaining 21 acres donated. Stallings would have eight months under the proposal to buy the property.
While the town did enter into a verbal agreement with the landowner, nothing was finalized.
“We’re thinking more about leasing facilities rather than giveaways,” Paxton said. She mentioned that council members had traveled to visit Cherry Park in Rock Hill, as well as the Monroe Aquatic Center and the field in Pineville. During the meeting, council members heard from Pineville town manager Mike Rose and Stingray Aquatics Facilities Director Mike Rowan.
Rock Hill’s Cherry Park cost $4.6 million in 1986. The 68 acre facility includes five 300 ft. lighted baseball fields, a concession stand and restrooms, 1.5 miles of paved, lighted trails, picnic shelters and five multi-purpose fields. So far, the town has seen $121.4 million brought in from the park over that 25 year period, with $1.2 million generated in the first year.
Across the county line, the Matthews sportsplex, planned for 1601 Tanktown Road, calls for 12 soccer fields, a stadium complex and amenities such as trails and picnic shelters on county owned land. A recently-completed economic impact study on the Matthews version of the sportsplex idea concluded that the project would bring an estimated $78.1 million to $85.1 million to the area during its estimated two-year construction time. The county-requested study, authored by University of North Carolina at Charlotte professor David Swindell, estimates the project will employ between 223 and 247 people. The town paid $1,500 for the study.
Pineville’s Jack Hughes Park meanwhile, features two softball fields, a 250 seat collegiate sized baseball stadium, two batting cages, two restrooms, a concession building, a playground, three picnic shelters, a 1.5 mile walking trail and a multi-purpose field. Before the town of Stallings does anything, Rose said, they need to figure out what the facility is supposed to be.
“You can’t be everything to everybody,” Rose said, adding that it took Pineville 11 years to determine what they wanted out of the sportsplex idea.
Other options besides ballfields
In addition to considering facilities for baseball, the council is also looking at the possibility of bringing in an aquatic venue, for schools and programs to use. Rowan explained to the council that his program currently goes to Rock Hill for competitions, because there’s not a facility in the area they can use.
“About 35 percent of our swimmers come from Union County,” Rowan said, explaining that he had 115 kids currently in the program. Stingray would love to increase those numbers to 225, Rowan said, but needed somewhere larger to house the swimmers.
Coming into March, the town had letters of interest from four potential stakeholders; Indian Trail based Carolina Courts, Porter Ridge Athletic Association, Landmark Development and the John Owens Baseball Group. Carolina Courts, currently in Indian Trail, must move because of the impending start of the Monroe Bypass. But a lawsuit has delayed the start of construction until October, relieving that urgency.
“Even though we’re talking about Carolina Courts and ballfields, we’ve not decided it’s Carolina Courts and ballfields,” council member Harry Stokes said. “(The facility) can be aquatic, it could be a YMCA. This is just the beginning stage.”
The council determined to schedule a special meeting later this fall, to discuss possible options for the sportsplex.