The Indiana Soccer Association is moving its headquarters from the east side of Indianapolis to Westfield in what the Hamilton County suburb is hailing as a major addition to its planned sports mega-complex.
Westfield Mayor Andy Cook announced Thursday morning that ISA intends to move to the Grand Park Sports Campus after it's completed in 2013. Some of the 32 soccer fields and 26 baseball diamonds planned for the complex will be ready next year, Cook said.
Groundbreaking on the $42 million, 350-acre park is set for Nov. 1.
“This announcement absolutely solidifies the entire project,” Cook said. “The uniqueness about this facility is that it locates all the fields in one location.”
Westfield’s agreement with ISA calls for the association to manage and maintain the soccer fields in exchange for any rent it would have paid. ISA, which will be responsible for game and tournament scheduling, also will receive a portion of the revenue generated from the fields.
The 32 soccer fields, eight of which will be artificial turf, are designed to also accommodate football, softball, lacrosse, rugby and field hockey games.
Cook said the city is in discussions with organizations representing those sports that could be interested in playing games at the park as well.
“We expect, with this kind of announcement today, that we’ll see a lot of interest from other sports,” he said.
ISA, located at 5440 Herbert Lord Road near East 56th Street, has about 85,000 members, including youth and adult players, coaches and referees. The group said the fields could host up to 1,800 teams annually, bringing 300,000 players and vistors to the park.
The decision follows a similar announcement in January by the Lids Indiana Bulls, a youth baseball organization for players ages 12 to 18. The Bulls now play tournaments at facilities throughout central Indiana.
Cook, a key architect behind the complex, said the deals help bolster his belief that the project will be an economic development boon for the growing suburb to Carmel’s north.
Once completed, Westfield expects the park to attract 500,000 visitors annually who will generate more than $10 million in spending.
The city also estimates that 2,300 jobs could be created from the hotels and restaurants it thinks will sprout up around the park.
The goal is to attract commercial development that would be used by those visiting for the sports tournaments. If that happens, it would strengthen Westfield’s tax base, which is now mostly residential.