Springfield, IL City Council Mulls Major New Sports Complex

Proposed sports complex to be reviewed by city council

By Tim Landis ([email protected])

Posted Dec 10, 2012 @ 10:00 PM

Plans for an all-weather athletic complex on the south side of
Springfield could come before the Springfield City Council as early as
next month.

Representatives from Sports Fields Contractors,
a development partnership based in Pawnee, outlined the Legacy Sports
Complex for a local zoning panel last week. The 15-field facility would
be built on about 80 acres along the north side of Interstate 72 that
was to be the home of the Xanadu sports complex before that project
failed more than a decade ago.

“We want to put this on a fast track,” company president Mark Driver
told members of a land subdivision committee of the Springfield-Sangamon
County Regional Planning Commission.

The panel recommended approval of the project after asking for changes
that include emergency access to the site. The proposal next goes to the
full planning commission, and then would go to City Council.

** See the plans for the project (pdf) **

Driver said after the meeting the facility would include five baseball,
five Little League softball and five soccer-football fields, all with
synethic all-weather turf. He said baseball fields would be built first
to accommodate tournaments scheduled for 2013.

SFC helped develop the new Sacred Heart-Griffin High School athletic complex in Springfield.

Calvary Temple
church in Springfield purchased the former Xanadu property as part of a
larger land purchase in 2002. Long-term plans included a sports
facility.

Driver said the church will continue to own the land, but SFC would
develop and operate the sports venue. The company’s agreement with
Calvary Temple allows for use by church athletic teams.

“This is a mission of our company and Calvary church,” said Driver. “We
do share similar philosophies on ministering through sports.”

A member of the Capital Area Sports Commission said the commission is
aware of the project, but the commission has had no formal contact with
SFC.

“It’s been communicated to the sports commission,” said Bob Laurent,
“but it’ll probably be a couple of more weeks before there are details
to talk about. Then we would suggest they come before the commission.”

The commission is an arm of the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Springfield Park District executive director Mike Stratton, who is a
member of the zoning committee, said he believes an all-weather facility
would complement park athletic programs.

He said park district officials also plan to talk to SFC about access to Legacy Sports Complex.

 “We’re talking about the development of synthetic fields, fields that
you can use all year round,” said Stratton. “With our current field
systems, we are constantly challenged by rain.

“Fields go down. Teams don’t get to play. You have doubleheaders,
sometimes doubleheaders back to back, and you have all kinds of
scheduling problems,” Stratton said.

Company president Jeremy Strawn said SFC is working on similar projects
across the country, including the Lenz Field & Sports Complex in
Jacksonville.

“We want to bring something back home to central Illinois,” said
Strawn. “We want to give our athletes a good facility to play on.”

Planning commission senior planner Joe Ziebert said after the meeting
the project could go to the full commission later this month and City
Council in January. But he said there still are numerous details to fill
in.

“This is kind of the stripped-down, large-scale plan,” said Ziebert.
“We’re looking at this and saying, ‘Is it site suitable, yes or no?’
After this gets approved, then all the details goes into Public Works
for the construction plans.”

Tim Landis can be reached at 788-1536.