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The Lebanon Sports Complex Committee discusses phases of the potential sports complex during its recent meeting. The group will look at a phased approach to constructing an estimated $36 million multi-sport complex along Highway 231. XAVIER SMITH

The Lebanon Sports Complex Committee will explore the costs and potential revenues for different phases of the potential multi-sports complex along Highway 231, estimated to cost $36 million to complete.

Nashville engineering and architecture service firm Barge Design Solutions gave the committee the initial estimate to build the park to be located just south of Stumpy Lane. The preliminary sketches for the complex include soccer, baseball and softball fields, as well as playground areas.

The city purchased the land for the complex earlier this year for $2.5 million.

Phase I includes five soccer fields, which includes one turfed field, which is estimated to cost $6.7 million to $7.5 million. Committee members said the phase is the closest to a necessity because of space limitations at the Wilson United Soccer complex, located at the Lebanon Municipal Airport.

City officials have discussed the need for an outdoor sports complex for years, and James Herren with Wilson United said the league’s growth could rise exponentially with the league joining with Eagle Express Soccer Club, which primarily serves Mt. Juliet.

“(Phase I) meets a need for our town. It’s not going to be the moneymaker. We already know that because we can’t compete with Siegel,” committee member and Lebanon Recreation Director William Porter. “(Phase II) is where your money’s going to be. This is where you’re going to feel your economic impact.” 

Porter was referring to the Siegel Soccer Park, which is a 130-acre soccer complex in Murfreesboro featuring 15 fields. The field has held several local, state and national tournaments. 

Barge Vice-President Steve Fritts said Murfreesboro is the regional leader in soccer tournaments, meaning the most profitable sports for Lebanon would likely be baseball and softball for tournaments.

The group also created options for Phase II, which focuses on the baseball and softball fields. 

Phase II-a is eight grass fields, Phase II-b is eight fields with turfed infields, and Phase II-c is 12 fields with turfed infields. 

“Well, Phase II is going to be expensive. We know that. By the time you put that parking lot and all of those ballfields, it’s not going to be cheap,” committee member Rick Smith said.

“This is something that reaches far beyond sports. This is going to be where your hotels, restaurants and things are coming in,” committee member Wayne Oakley said. 

“Since we’ve first started talking about this, the revenue stream that it would bring in is what I’ve hooked my thoughts to,” said Lebanon Mayor Bernie Ash, who questioned how the committee could sell the idea of the park to people who fall on separate ends of a spectrum — those heavily involved in youth sports and those who have zero interest or experience. 

Herren said the league would not be able to sustain the cost of the facility, which Fritts said is common. 

“No matter what we put on for field usage is not going to cover the city’s cost on that annually. We can contribute, but we won’t cover it,” Herren said. 

Fritts said ballfields in the country average about 20 percent in cost recovery, but noted Lebanon could see about 38 percent return on the project based on potential investments. 

The group discussed the desire to build the first two phases at the same time in order to avoid future disturbance of building vital pieces of the complex. 

Committee member Chuck Whitlock, Wilson County Schools Health Services Supervisor, said there is efficiency in doing the entire project at once, or as much as possible at once. 

Phase III includes three additional soccer fields, which includes one turfed field, while Phase IV features an office complex. The committee said the complex would likely be viewed as a long-term goal of the complex. 

The committee is tentatively expected to meet next month to discuss the costs and potential revenue for each phase, while Ash plans to reach out to potential partners for the project.

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