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The topic: Sports Park director
Our view: All eyes on the park
The Elizabethtown Sports Park is on a fast track toward its unveiling next year at this time.
Dirt has been turned, bids have been accepted and the facility is starting to take shape.
And, management has been put in place. The latest hire is Seth Breitner as director of the state-of-the-art, multi-sports complex.
The park already has a turf specialist. Sufficient management will be in place to make the park look like a sports destination.
But whether this park is a success when the gates open next July should be interesting.
The park has been a point of controversy for years, from its financing by a 2 percent restaurant tax, to its high cost of between $25 and $30 million.
Based on the salaries of those already hired, the sports park must attract plenty of soccer, softball and baseball teams. It will take plenty of entry fees, bags of popcorn and tickets to offset the more than $100,000 in two salaries.
So far, we have not heard a marketing plan for the facility, nor have we heard what criteria city officials will use to judge success or failure of the park.
Travel sports is a competitive market. Teams want first-rate facilities and that is something the sports park should easily offer when finished.
Hosting weekend tournaments won’t fill hotel rooms. Hosting regional and national events when teams, parents and grandparents travel from hundreds of miles away is what will drive the economic impact.
That, too, is a competitive endeavor.
Breitner, an Eastern Kentucky University graduate, comes from Richmond’s parks and recreation department, where he oversaw more than 100 acres of outdoor recreation space and 26 athletic fields.
He seems to have the background to lead the sports park. But simply landing tournaments such as those held at the Ring Road Softball Complex, Carroll Soccer Complex and baseball fields along University Drive won’t be good enough to make the financial impact anticipated by city and tourism officials, or expected by taxpayers.
Getting the park in place is the first hurdle for park and city officials. Making sure it is a success will be another.
We know this for sure: Controversial as it already has been, losing money only will add fuel to the fire confronting the Elizabethtown Sports Park.
This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.