Sports Tourism Could Bring Millions to the Local Economy
They already have a one of a kind archery program and now they're setting their sights on baseball and softball
The City of Newberry's Parks and Recreation Department is making concrete plans to bring sports tourism to Alachua County.
Newberry receives 1 penny of each bed tax dollar collected in Alachua County and it's going towards a sprawling 16 field complex. The goal is to use youth baseball and fast pitch softball as an economic engine for Newberry and the county.
Parks and Recreation Director, Richard Blalock said, "We can keep our small town, keep our population down, again, keep our infrastructure where it needs to be...have these people come visit us, spend their money and go home."
The plan is to break ground this Spring or Summer on an 80 acre, 16 field complex called "Nations Baseball Park." The project is a collaborative effort between the City of Newberry, Alachua County, the State of Florida and two private investors.
According to Blalock, it could bring in $12.6 million into the local economy each year and $2.1 million into the bed tax through hotel stays and day spending by visitors to the park.
Blalock said, "This baseball facility would be the equivalent to adding six more home football games that Florida does...it would produce as much, just over a longer period of time."
Blalock said that sports tourism is a clean, green way to generate revenue in the local economy because as tournaments are hosted and money is coming in, it doesn't stress the existing infrastructure.
And this new venture follows the success of another Newberry facility, the Easton-Newberry Sports Complex.
Assistant Archery Coach Robert Turner said, "To have this facility here indoors, air conditioned, outdoors, field, hunting, 3d...look, we have everything that an archer could ever want."
The 2 million dollar, 20 thousand square foot building and surrounding property offers even more than an internationally recognized archery program. There's football, baseball, volleyball, basketball, softball, rugby and a 2 1/2 mile nature trail among other features.
Peter Gryffin is the parent of two archery students. He said, "For an opportunity for the children in the area...it's fantastic!"
Blalock said the Easton-Newberry Sports Complex is just the beginning of Newberry's plan to become a destination for sports tourism. The next big step is of course, Nations Baseball Park.
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