DE Turf Sports Complex in Frederica, Delaware, was first dreamed of in 2008. The reality is greater than what was imagined.
Opened on April 1, 2017—no fooling—the facility has already signed up some of sports tourism’s biggest and most respected sports events organizations. Adrenaline Lacrosse? Check. US Lacrosse? Check. USA Field Hockey? You get the idea.
In total, Kent County Regional Sports Complex—or DE Turf Sports Complex as it’s known—has attracted about 20 events.
“We’re pretty far ahead of what we projected for,” says DE Sports Turf Complex Executive Director Chris Giacomucci.
That’s putting it mildly. Feasibility studies—there were six prior to opening—projected 10 tournaments would generate $18 million in economic impact. While it’s too soon to tell what doubling the estimated amount of events means for certain, the anecdotal evidence suggests DE Sports represents a financial windfall for the state.
“We’ve had a lot of feedback from local restaurants saying they’ve had to add staff for weekends,” says Giacomucci.
Giacomucci says the site has drawn 20,000 visitors and filled 2,500 room nights from more than 20 states and Canada. “That’s in our first six months operating,” he notes.
A Fast Start
What’s the secret? It starts with the product.
With 12 synthetic turf fields—including a 750-seat championship stadium—complete with state-of-the-art drainage systems, the 85-acre facility is virtually weather proof. “We can play when other facilities can’t,” says Giacomucci. “We’ve had a number of bookings come from rainouts at other facilities.”
While snow and ice proved too much for the NCAA Men’s College Cup Showcase, the site impressed the event’s organizers. “It’s a beautiful facility and well laid out,” says Matt Libber, CSEE, vice president of business development at Elite Tournaments. “The staff is great to work with and is very accommodating.”
Location also plays into DE Turf’s hands. Delaware is driving distance from mid-Atlantic hubs like New York, Boston, Philadelphia and the Baltimore-Washington area. It lies on Route 1 and connects to I-95. A final infrastructure project will make DE Turf Sports Complex even more accessible next year.
Not only does the complex present a viable venue close to where many elite teams are based, Delaware is a cheaper destination than its neighbors. There’s no sales tax to boot, making the hotels and shopping options more attractive to planners and travel agencies. Did we mention the beach is only 30 minutes away, too?
Giacomucci is an asset, too. Having previously led the Delaware Sports Commission, he already had relationships with key players in the sports events world. “We’ve been able to identify the right partners and organizations to help us get this facility established as one of the premier sports travel destinations in the country,” he demurs.
Despite DE Turf Sports Complex’s popularity, Giacomucci remains committed to balancing the schedule between national and regional tournaments and local events. That said, Giacomucci says one of his new favorite hobbies is taking a stroll in the parking lot to see all the different license plates.
“One of the best joys of this job is to offer advice to out-of-towners for where to go,” he says.