Delaware’s newest economic engine is running, and the action at it is revving up. The board and staff of DE Turf Sports Complex along with state and local leaders held a ribbon cutting for the new facility Saturday, May 13. Construction on the 12-field, all-turf complex, the largest of its kind in the Mid-Atlantic, began last spring after eight years of diligent work to take these fields from dream to reality.
“We saw a need for a sports tourism destination in Delaware,” said Bill Strickland, chairman of the DE Turf Board of Directors. “That’s exactly what we now have. It’s an asset and economic driver not just for central Delaware but for the entire state.”
A feasibility study estimated DE Turf would have an impact of $18 million annually. That estimate was based on 10 events a year. To date, DE Turf has booked around 20 events for its first year. The first major showcase for the complex, College Connections, was a success that left attendees raving about DE Turf. It brought 84 field hockey teams, more than 4,000 visitors, to Delaware over Easter weekend.
“Players, coaches and families are traveling from all over the East Coast to play at DE Turf,” said Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long. “While they’re here, they have a significant, positive impact on Delaware – eating at restaurants, staying at hotels, taking advantage of tax-free shopping and so much more.”
“We’re proud to be able to bring people here to share what makes the state great,” said Chris Giacomucci, DE Turf’s executive director. “We also know this is a valuable resource for the local community, where local teams/clubs can play. Plus, everyone can register at DETurf.com for summer leagues and camps or to stay up to date on all of our programs and offerings year round.”
“This complex gives kids a place to run, be active and stay healthy,” said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware. “I have made exercising a core part of my life. It gives me the energy to work for Delaware every day in Washington. So, I love seeing young athletes from Delaware and beyond making physical activity important in their lives.”
Despite the rain, along with the ribbon cutting, DE Turf hosted multiple tournaments and more than 50 teams Saturday, including a tournament originally scheduled for a different, grass facility. “The weather today was ‘beautiful,’ because it allowed us to show what the complex was built to do,” Strickland said. “The all-turf fields allow games to happen in inclement weather. So, events are less likely to need to cancel, teams are less likely to go home disappointed and the fun can continue here at DE Turf.”
In addition, DelDOT Sec. Jennifer Cohan announced that a section of DE Turf’s parking lot will now be part of DelDOT’s Park & Ride system. Cohan’s department has worked closely with the complex throughout the development and construction process.
“We’ve partnered to ensure drivers have safe, easy access to the fields on tournament weekends,” Cohan said. “And travel will be even smoother when the South Frederica Overpass is complete next year.”
Another project will soon be underway at DE TURF, Strickland said Saturday. First State Orthopedics and ATI Physical Therapy will be opening new offices at the site next to the fields and the new overpass. He said it was another example of DE Turf driving the region’s economy.
“It’s so rewarding to see the growth the complex is already spurring,” said Sen. Brian Bushweller (D-Dover). “We knew that would be the case from the beginning, which made this a project my colleagues on both side of the aisle at Legislative Hall could support.”
“We’re looking forward to see how this area will grow even more from here,” said Kent County Commissioner Eric Buckson. “And as a teacher, coach and parent, I look forward to seeing how much fun local kids will have at DE Turf.”
The $24-million sports complex was designed by Becker Morgan Group and built by Richard Y. Johnson & Son. Highwater Management (a subsidiary of SoDel Concepts) is providing the facility’s healthy concessions. The fields can host soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, rugby, ultimate Frisbee and more. Five of them are lighted, including the 750-seat championship stadium. For information about registering for a DE Turf camp or becoming a sponsor of the complex, individuals are encouraged to call 302-330-TURF (8873) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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