Sports Complex Construction Delayed

A youth sports facility to be built on Peoria's north side will likely not be hosting any events this year.

When the City Council first approved plans for the Louisville Slugger Sports Complex in February, officials said the facility would be able to host a few events by late fall or early winter. Now, at the end of July, construction has yet to begin at the site just north of the Shoppes at Grand Prairie. The City Council also has to approve rezoning the property a second time because the sale of the property wasn't finalized until after the June 30 deadline.

So, what was the hold-up?

"We started some additional due diligence on the land before the closing happened, and there were some things that just came up in the process of doing that that delayed things," said project manager Andy Paulson.

While none of the unspecified issues resulted in a huge problem for the project as a whole, Paulson says they were responsible for the closing date deadline being missed. It was at the request of the developer, he says, that the City Council last week tabled measures that would levy additional property and sales taxes on the site. It was also with the developer's support that the process of approving the project should start over.

"There was case law to support allowing an extension of [the deadline]. But I think from staff, and the legal perspective, we just wanted it to be clean as opposed to having any potential hang-ups," Councilman Casey Johnson said last week.

With all of that in mind, Paulson says the Louisville Slugger Sports Complex will likely not be ready to host any games until summer 2015.

"A lot of that will depend on how far we're able to get with construction this year, and where that'll leave us with what we need to finish before the seasons start next year," he said.

The Zoning and Planning Commission will revisit the issue at its August 7 meeting. The City Council will likely look at it a second time August 12. There is no guarantee that the project will be green-lit again, but considering it had such overwhelming support from city officials the first time around, it's not expected to be met with much, if any, resistance.

Some residents were very upset by the proposal when it first made its way through City Hall. Many worried that the traffic, noise, and light pollution created by the facility would be at least an inconvenience, and, at most, a reason to move. Some residents fiercely criticized officials for even considering rezoning the land, since doing so went against the city's comprehensive plan.

Meanwhile, the sports complex has been touted by city officials as a great economic boon for one of the largest growth cells in Peoria. Thousands of people are expected to attend events at the facility each year once it opens, bringing shoppers to the Shoppes at Grand Prairie and other surrounding businesses.

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