Westfield moves ahead with sports facility plan

A study commission has concluded that a major development involving a new youth-sports complex would be viable for Westfield,
the city announced this morning.

Mayor Andy Cook announced in April that Westfield wanted to build a $60 million
youth sports complex with a 4,000-seat multipurpose outdoor stadium, indoor sports facilities, and fields for baseball, soccer,
softball and lacrosse.

Cook said the Westfield Sports Complex Commission has recommended the city move forward
with a second phase of the project, which will involve deeper analysis.

The sports facilities could anchor a 1,500-acre
development by locally based Estridge Co. along Towne Road between 146th and 161st streets. The project, called Symphony,
already features the Wood Wind Golf Club.

All told, the sports component and clusters of retail, hotels and residential
development around it would require a public and private investment of $1.5 billion, Cook said. A tax-increment finance district
could be created so the city can collect tax revenue to pay for the public portion of the project.

The city could
try to attract an unaffiliated minor-league baseball team to play in the outdoor stadium, and also hopes to lure the YMCA
as a major tenant. YMCA of Greater Indianapolis has only one branch in Hamilton County, in Fishers.

The ultimate
goal is to turn Westfield, a bedroom community without much of an identity, into the “Family Sports Capital of America.”
The city has a population of more than 20,000 people.

Cook appointed a 12-member commission chaired by Kevin Teder,
a Westfield resident and businessman. The commission has been meeting every one to two weeks since May 12 to review information
and studies compiled by the city, the Hamilton County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and other stakeholders regarding
the viability of the sports-complex concept. 

“In Phase One, the commission was charged with evaluating
all the given material and deciding if this project is viable in the city of Westfield,” Cook said in a statement. “The
group has been extremely thorough in the evaluation process, and we are thrilled to report that we are moving ahead with a
more detailed analysis.”

Phase Two will consist of further analysis of public vs. private operation, location
specifics, financial studies and more. It should be completed in eight to 10 months. 
More than 45,000 people visited
Hamilton County in 2007 for sports events, spending nearly $7 million, the visitor’s bureau said. The new facilities
could increase that figure “many times over.”

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