By Steve Dwyer
There are a number of sports stadiums that have been built on former brownfields that get a lot of national attention—and do so because of their sheer size and overall scale. Target Field in Minneapolis, the Washington National’s ballpark are two good examples.
However, a local community, county or township can construct indoor/outdoor sports facilities in a more modest fashion and still reap big results—such as becoming a destination magnet for local, state and regional teams to participate in tournaments.
If the development vision is laser-focused, the project can wrap the sports component around other profit centers, such as shopping, restaurants, museums and hotels, the latter a must as tournaments attract families who seek lodging over weekend stays.
This spring, a group in Somerset, N.J. said it was poised to christen a 40-acre indoor/outdoor sports facility located on remediated property on Mountain View Rd. The redevelopment has a golden opportunity to score in many of the diversified ways that have been cited.
Apparently, the approval process is navigating nicely, with work on the project hitting full bore this summer, according to TapInto.net, an online newspaper serving Somerset, N.J.
Gregg Wilke, developer and owner of the Apex Sports & Events facility, also owns the HRC Gym and Fitness Center in the area, a family fitness and wellness gym offering programs and amenities for children, adults and seniors.
The Apex project will be built adjacent to Mountain View Park, a 369-acre outdoor sports complex owned jointly by the township and Somerset County, and situated on remediated property formerly part of the Belle Mead Government Service Administration Depot, a federal government property.
Apex will complement the adjacent Mountain View Park facilities, creating a massive sports and recreation destination not only for township sports leagues and clubs, but for similar organizations from surrounding towns and throughout the state. It will rival similar facilities in New Jersey, according to the newspaper report.
“At Apex, our mission is to create a state-of-the-art unique competition and training facility for Hillsborough that serves the year-round sports and recreation needs of the local families while promoting a healthy lifestyle for the community and assisting in the development of our young athletes,” Wilkie said to the online publication, adding that he hopes to open the outdoor turf fields in the spring of 2019 and the indoor complex later that year.
The Apex complex will feature synthetic turf field designated for use by township organizations, and there will be two other synthetic turf fields installed on the 40-acre expanse. All outdoor fields will be lighted. The centerpiece will be a 210,000-square foot indoor facility including two domes.
The larger of the two domes will enclose a full-size indoor soccer field, also suitable for lacrosse and football. The smaller dome will be used for training programs, work outs and fitness training. There will be indoor basketball and volleyball courts, batting cages and pitching tunnels, a mezzanine viewing area, café and concessions area, multi-purpose rooms, team rooms and space for other activities, including a kids’ adventure area with rock climbing and other family-friendly activities.
No doubt about it, sports-oriented redevelopments have a chance to carve out huge dividends to breath life into a local community—and do so across several facets. It goes to show that in executing such end uses on former brownfields, you don’t always need to "Go Big" to succeed.