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Burlington Breaks Ground on "The Turf"

Jason Parrott
Organizers joined dozens of local athletes at the groundbreaking for "The Turf" Monday night in Burlington.

Supporters are confident that construction of a new indoor sports complex in Burlington will help the region capitalize on the popularity of traveling youth sports teams. They broke ground on the facility this week, drawing a crowd of nearly 200 people, including many kids who will eventually play there.

The facility known as “The Turf” will feature about 80,000 square feet of playing surface for football or soccer, or about the size of 1 ½ professional football fields. There will also be a couple youth baseball/softball diamonds.

It will be located next to Burlington’s RecPlex, which features outdoor soccer fields and baseball/softball diamonds.

Jason Hutcheson, President and CEO of the Greater Burlington Partnership, serves on the organizing committee for the indoor sports complex. He said the Turf will accommodate local sports teams and large-scale traveling tournaments with hundreds of participants.

“Our original study done in 2012 estimated somewhere between 8,000-9,000 hotel nights per year as a result of this facility,” said Hutcheson. “And that was when it was much smaller in scope and so we think the economic impact will be significantly larger than that. No matter how large we built this facility, we would have never built it enough.”

Hutcheson said the community declared an indoor sports complex a top priority during a long-range planning effort conducted nearly a decade ago. He said it’s taken a long time to reach this point because of fundraising and design changes.

Hutcheson said the price has remained about $4 million, almost all of which came from private donors. He said the city of Burlington is providing about $350,000 for parking.

Hutcheson said the design has changed significantly, starting with a 20,000 square foot facility to the proposed 80,000 square foot complex. The increased square footage is due in large part to the decision to construct a large bubble dome above the playing fields instead of constructing a new building or retrofitting an existing structure.

Construction is already underway and should be completed by late Dec. 2018/early Jan. 2019.

“We will no doubt see events early next year in this facility,” said Hutcheson. “We are probably looking at the fall of 2019 before we are fully maximizing this facility.”

Credit Jason Parrott / TSPR
Nearly 200 people turned out for the groundbreaking for "The Turf" Monday night next to the Burlington RecPlex.

Hutcheson said the facility will be owned and operated by a non-profit group.

Supporters say the goal is to eventually pair “The Turf” with “The Courts” to provide even more indoor sports opportunities in the greater Burlington area.

“The Courts” is a proposed basketball/volleyball facility that would be built in West Burlington on the SCC campus. The estimated price tag is at least $6 million; fundraising already underway.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.