Cedar Point Breaks Ground on Youth Sports Complex

Cedar Point officially broke ground at the facility’s 57-acre site on Cleveland Road for the Sports Force Parks at Cedar Point Sports Center. The $23.5 million project is scheduled to open in the spring of 2017.

Published by: Susan Glasser/The Plain Dealer
Published date: April 2016

SANDUSKY, Ohio – The youth-sports travel industry in the United States is worth an estimated $7 billion a year, fueled by millions of young soccer and softball players and their parents, who travel to tournaments near and far.

Next year, they’ll have a new place to play: The Cedar Point Sports Center in Sandusky, a new venture between Cedar Point, Erie County and Georgia-based Sports Force Parks.

Officials broke ground on the first phase of the $23.5 million project this month, which includes a sports center capable of hosting major amateur competitive events in several sports, including softball, baseball, lacrosse and soccer. It is scheduled to open in spring 2017.

Jim Arnold, director of business development for the Sports Force & Fields, said his staff is already working to put together a schedule of tournaments and events that will draw tens of thousands of new visitors to Ohio’s north coast. The first contests should be announced in June.

“Sandusky is the perfect market for this type of facility,” said Arnold, citing the variety of attractions available here to young players and their families, including Cedar Point, the water parks, the Lake Erie shore and more.

“Everybody has been waiting for it to happen,” he said.

The facility will feature nine multi-purpose, synthetic turf fields; four NCAA-regulation baseball fields; eight NCAA-regulation soccer and lacrosse fields; plus a championship baseball/softball stadium, training areas and an ADA-accessible field.

It will be located on 57 acres on Cleveland Avenue (Ohio 6) just east of downtown, with Sandusky Bay to the north and views of Cedar Point to the west. It’s the site of the former Griffing-Sandusky Airport, which closed in 2013.

“The development of that land is critical to us,” said Jason McClure, Cedar Point’s general manager. “Folks from Cleveland drive by there when they come to the park. We didn’t want it to remain vacant.”

The park bought the land last year, and then finalized the deal with Sports Force and Erie County.

Also last year: The Erie County commissioners voted to raise the county’s bed tax by 2 percentage points, which will pay for a majority of construction costs. Cedar Point and Sports Force also are pitching in.

An economic impact study conducted by Sports Force estimates that the complex, after it’s been operating for a couple of years, will bring 110,000 new visitors to the area, generate 80,000 additional overnights, add hundreds of new jobs and millions in new spending.

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