The heavy rain wrecked havoc on Lexington four years ago, and when the rain moved in, a major soccer tournament had to move out due to saturated fields.
“All the natural grass fields are completely overused,”Kris Zander, director of the Kentucky Youth Soccer Association, said. “Any kind of inclement weather and they have to be shut down.”
But while the loss of hotel room nights and restaurant revenue is something every city with an event canceled hates, perhaps there will be a silver lining for the KYSA as well as the Bluegrass Sports Commission, the latter of which is donating $25,000 toward a feasibility study on a new multi-use facility.
In what one board member for the Commission referred to as a “first step in what could be a marathon,” the study will look at all of the factors in play for a potential venue, but there is a 130-acre plot of land owned by the city that could be suitable for such a venue. The space would account for both field sports and diamonds for baseball and softball.
“If we could keep tournaments here, Lexington would benefit from the money that parents are spending on hotels, restaurants and for gas,” Bluegrass Sports Commission’s Phil Holoubek said.
Due to the early stages of the study, a hard cost estimate is yet to be finalized, however $25 million has been mentioned as a high-end price point. But no matter what the cost is, the dollar figure will be high, but Lexington—and the Bluegrass Sports Commission—understands in the arms race that is venue construction, getting a head start—not playing catch-up—is what every destination is aiming for.