Last night the Lilburn City Council voted unanimously to move to the next step towards building a new sports complex. This vote is not a guarantee that the project will materialize. The vote did approve a license fee agreement with Big League Dream Sports Parks and starts the process of exploring the project’s feasibility. City leaders hope that the new “massive baseball, softball and soccer venue”, would be a positive step to revive its struggling economy. This proposed venue would occupy 40 acres at the intersection of Indian Trail Road and Hwy 29, which is currently home to a soon to be closed water and sewerage treatment facility. The site would host various little league and adult sports tournaments, as well as other events. According to an article from the AJC, a refundable fee of $450,000 would be put up while the City examines financial records of Big League Dreams, and the City would have up to 18 months to reconsider the deal. There has been discussion over ways to finance the project, such as bonds issued by the City, however a specific plan has not been announced. Local residents both for and against the project were present at the meeting, and public hearings should begin in October.
My reaction to this idea is mixed. As a mother of a travel softball player and active member of the youth sports community in Gwinnett, I am jumping up and down with joy. This kind of facility could mean taking our already good youth sport programs and make them truly great. However, I do not believe that building or operating this event should come at any expense to tax payers. I’m interested to see what ideas come out of these talks and what ideas the community will bring.
While we have a great Parks & Recreation program, facilities such as this are lacking in our area. Gwinnett has a very robust youth sports program and facilities dedicated to recreation level sports. However, when playing at a more competitive level teams often must go out of the area to find available tournaments and facilities (taking our money along with us). The presence of such a venue for more competitive levels of youth sports tournaments would give greater opportunity to keep many of our teams local, more often and bring teams from other areas. It would also provide another positive, more constructive way for kids to spend time and energy, a goal for which to reach and a great place to build lasting friendships and memories. I will be watching and listening with you to see how this works out and would love to know your thoughts!