Kennewick is betting that if a tournament sports complex in Southridge is built, the tourists, players and businesses will come, and bring money too.
Earth-moving equipment scraped the brush and pushed sod Wednesday in the next phase of development at the city-owned complex.
Apollo, a construction company in Kennewick, began preparing the site by grading for construction of a 1,450-square-foot plaza restroom/meeting/office building and a 2,000-square-foot steel structure maintenance facility. It bid $615,000 for the job.
Peter Beaudry, director of municipal services for the city, said the work is part of a bigger $2.8 million plan to add three new sports fields to the complex.
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"Tourism is a key money maker for us," said Mayor Steve Young. "It is more than heads and beds, but also key for retail."
The city council has made the Southridge sports complex one of its top five priorities this year, and is banking on the state's Local Revitalization Financing Program to leverage infrastructure development for Southridge.
Young said the council's vision for the sports complex includes fields for baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse and disc golf and a track for runners.
There are plans for a palladium as well, so sports events can be held during the winter in a sheltered facility.
"This will double our ability to generate sales opportunities through these sports events," Young said, noting that people who come to tournaments typically have down time when they can go shopping or to restaurants.
The tournament sports complex also will be a draw for other development, similar to what golf courses did to attract homes and businesses at Meadow Springs in Richland and Canyon Lakes in Kennewick, Young said.
"This will create a new growth area for Kennewick," he said.
The big plan for the sports complex is a $2.8 million vision, and a key component in achieving it is to find partners and sponsors, Young said.
Councilman Bob Parks said he has been pushing for the project for eight years.
"It's something I talked about when I got on council. I'm a little disappointed it has taken so long," he said.
When the sports complex is complete, Parks expects it to fit perfectly with businesses such as restaurants and wineries that have already taken key positions in Southridge.
"When people come here, they want to do things," Parks said.
-- John Trumbo: 582-1529; firstname.lastname@example.org