The sports complex has been under development for eight years.
Touting what they called “Delaware’s newest economic engine,” the board and staff of DE Turf sports complex held a ribbon cutting for the new facility Saturday morning.
They were joined by state and local leaders, including Sen. Tom Carper.
Construction on the 12-field, all-turf complex, the largest of its kind in the Mid-Atlantic, began last spring after eight years of work to bring them to fruition.
A feasibility study estimated DE Turf would have an impact of $18 million annually. That estimate was based on 10 events a year. To date, DE Turf has booked around 20 events for its first year.
The first major showcase for the complex, College Connections, brought 84 field hockey teams, more than 4,000 visitors, to Delaware over Easter weekend.
“This complex gives kids a place to run, be active and stay healthy,” Carper said. “I have made exercising a core part of my life. It gives me the energy to work for Delaware every day in Washington. So, I love seeing young athletes from Delaware and beyond making physical activity important in their lives.”
Despite the rain, along with the ribbon cutting, DE Turf hosted multiple tournaments and more than 50 teams Saturday, including a tournament originally scheduled for a different, grass facility.
“The weather today was ‘beautiful,’ because it allowed us to show what the complex was built to do,” said Bill Strickland, chairman of the DE Turf Board of Directors. “The all-turf fields allow games to happen in inclement weather. So, events are less likely to need to cancel, teams are less likely to go home disappointed and the fun can continue here at DE Turf.”
Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long noted DE Turf has attracted athletes and their families from all over the East Coast.
“While they’re here, they have a significant, positive impact on Delaware – eating at restaurants, staying at hotels, taking advantage of tax-free shopping and so much more,” she said.
DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan announced a section of DE Turf’s parking lot will be part of DelDOT’s Park & Ride system. Cohan’s department has worked closely with the complex throughout the development and construction process.
DelDOT is overseeing construction on an overpass that will allow easy access to the sports complex. The work will be complete in 2018, Cohan said.
First State Orthopedics and ATI Physical Therapy also will be opening new offices at the site next to the fields and the new overpass.
“It’s so rewarding to see the growth the complex is already spurring,” Sen. Brian Bushweller, D-Dover, said. “We knew that would be the case from the beginning, which made this a project my colleagues on both side of the aisle at Legislative Hall could support.”
The $24-million sports complex was designed by Becker Morgan Group and built by Richard Y. Johnson & Son. Highwater Management, a subsidiary of SoDel Concepts, is providing the facility’s healthy concessions. The fields can host soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, rugby, ultimate Frisbee and more. Five of them are lighted, including the 750-seat championship stadium.