Sports teams all over the East Coast will soon have a brand new place to play in tournaments and have incredible experiences in Delaware. Project leaders and local officials kicked off the construction process of the DE Turf Sports Complex (Kent County Regional Sports Complex) in Frederica at the site’s groundbreaking Thursday morning.
The 84-acre, state-of-the-art facility, conceived as an economic driver for the state, will be home to ten synthetic turf and two natural grass fields for sports, such as soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, rugby and ultimate Frisbee. That includes a championship stadium field. Synthetic turf will minimize the impact of inclement weather on games and tournaments.
Additionally, DE Turf will have ample parking, comfort stations, lighting and scoreboards, space for vendors, training areas and a cutting edge fieldhouse, created in partnership with Highwater Management (a subsidiary of SoDel Concepts), that will have interesting, healthy culinary offerings for athletes.
The Greater Kent Committee championed the effort behind DE Turf and established the Kent County Regional Sports Complex Corporation, a 501c3 overseen by a board of directors and newly-hired Executive Director Rob Smith. The KCRSC hired Becker Morgan Group to design and Richard Y. Johnson & Son to build the $24-million facility. Construction work started this winter. The project is slated for completion in spring 2017.
The DE Turf Sports Complex is centrally-located in the Mid-Atlantic region, within a four-hour drive of more than 20 million people. Located about 10 miles south of Dover, Delaware’s capital, the site is close to central Delaware’s 2,200 hotel rooms and easily accessible to cities near the I-95 corridor, from Philadelphia to New York, Baltimore to Washington.
“The affect DE Turf will have on sports tourism in Delaware will be huge,” said Bill Strickland, chairman of the Kent County Regional Sports Complex. “Sports tourism was a $9-billion industry across the country in 2014. We know this project is an economic engine that will ensure Delaware is well-positioned to get a sizeable piece of that.”
“DE Turf has the potential to be one of the top sports complexes on the East Coast in the next five years,” said Rob Smith, executive director of the complex. “Our competitive advantages will make this a go-to location for large-scale events and attract thousands of visitors to the area.”
Kent County Levy Court President P. Brooks Banta was on-hand for Thursday’s event and echoed the sentiment the complex will have a major economic impact on central Delaware. Levy Court has offered continual support to the project.
A feasibility study conducted during the process of securing funding estimated the impact of the facility at $18 million annually after ten years. A different study completed by the University of Delaware around the same time said its construction would employ 180 people, and more than 2,000 jobs would be available during camp and tournament seasons – equivalent to 210 full-time, continuing jobs for the area.
State lawmakers have long worked to find ways to make DE Turf a reality. State Sen. Brian Bushweller, D-Dover, helped secure $3.2 million from Delaware’s infrastructure fund for the project.
“This facility will create significant economic activity in Kent County,” Sen. Bushweller said. “The county’s state legislators have always known that and provided bi-partisan backing for DE Turf. DelDOT has also stepped up to help make the project a success.”
In March DelDOT broke ground on the new South Frederica Overpass on DE 1. Construction on the interchange is expected to be complete in 2018. DelDOT first proposed the overpass in 1996. It is one of six projects along DE 1 in Kent County intended to improve safety for those traveling the highway. Once complete, the overpass will provide vehicle access to DE Turf.
“The overpass will make getting into the sports complex both easy and safe,” said DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan. “More broadly, it will make traveling on Route 1 better for tourists and Delawareans alike.”
Event coordinators and sports league officials interested in more information on DE Turf should contact Rob Smith at 302-257-6813 or email@example.com. Those seeking information about hosting an event at any of Delaware’s sports venues should contact Chris Giacomucci, executive director of the Delaware Sports Commission at 302-672-6832 or Chris.Giacomucci@state.de.us.