Grand Park developer, Kokomo partner on $86 million youth sports project

A developer tied to Westfield’s Grand Park is part of an $86 million project in Kokomo to build a youth sports complex and associated commercial development called Championship Park, making the city the latest central Indiana community trying to cash in on the youth sports industry.

Though much smaller than the Westfield sports facility, the Kokomo complex—with eight diamonds that could be booked for tournaments—could create more competition for Grand Park’s baseball and softball tournament lineup.

Westfield-based Henke Development Group, which helped the city develop Grand Park, plans to spend $77 million developing 16 outlots for business, office, retail and restaurant space on land directly east of Darrough Chapel Park. A hotel could also be part of the project.

The outlots would accompany eight multi-purpose fields (four high-school sized and four youth-league sized) being developed by the city of Kokomo at Darrough Chapel Park, on the city’s east side near U.S. 31. The city will spend $9 million developing the artificial turf fields, concessions and other amenities at the site.

“This will be a tremendous asset for our local sports programs,” Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight said in written comments. “From baseball to softball, a facility of this kind will create opportunities for the youth in the community. This also will bring an influx of visitors to Kokomo each weekend during tournament season.”

Henke served as the exclusive developer to the city of Westfield as it built Grand Park, which now has 31 soccer fields and 26 baseball and softball diamonds. More than $700 million of related economic development across the city can be credited to the campus, city officials say.

Kokomo plans to create a tax increment financing district to pay for the project, according to the Kokomo Tribune. That's similar to the Westfield plan to pay off the bonds used to finance Grand Park.

Henke Development CEO Steve Henke sees Kokomo as a natural fit for the project. He called the commercial development premium, saying it will create quality tax-generating businesses for the city.

“Henke Development is excited to bring a championship-level project to the city of Kokomo,” Henke said in written comments. “Our goal is not only to provide a premier youth sports and commercial destination, but it will also be a place for the residents of Kokomo to be proud of.”

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