Community Meets to Try to Give Sports Complex a Kick Forward - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Community Meets to Try to Give Sports Complex a Kick Forward

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DOVER, Del. (WBOC) -  A community meeting Tuesday in Kent County aimed to give a sports complex a kick forward.

Plans for the Kent County Regional Sports Complex have been in process for many years. But more recently the plans have largely, if not completely, stalled out.

Now some people are trying to get those plans going again. It's part of a grassroots effort to finally get the sports complex built.

Bob Murphy organized Tuesday's meeting. He says people need to know the project remains on the books, remains shovel ready.

"To let the politicians know and the general public that although we've gotten the wind knocked out of our sales a bit on the project, the boat is still moving, and the project is still moving forward," he said.

A sign at the future site of the complex reads "Coming Soon." They are words that have become more figurative, less literal by the day.

The $24 million project is supposed to put more than a dozen soccer, field hockey, lacrosse fields along DE 1 in Frederica.

Discussions began on the complex in 2009. A kick-off event was held in 2012. And final design plans were unveiled in 2013.

The complex was originally slated to open in 2014. Then the timeline changed to 2015 or 2016. Now, with further delay, it's unclear when it might open - if at all.

State lawmakers had set aside $3.2 million for it. But this year lawmakers actually borrowed that money to fund a relief package for Delaware casinos.

"The fact that the money has been in there so long and has not been used yet bothers me more than what the money was used for," said Murphy.

Issues surrounding an overpass over DE 1 at the complex site are a large part of what's delaying the project. Project leaders have said the overpass is necessary for safe access to a completed complex. But the overpass is way down on DelDOT's priority list.

And according to tourism officials, every day of delay means dollars lost for the area.

"We are missing out on things, because sports tourism has never been more popular," said Cindy Small, director of Kent County Tourism. "By Delaware not having a venue, we've missed millions of dollars already."

"The project is supposed to be underway right now," Murphy said. "The fact that it's not - who wouldn't be disappointed?"

Despite being disappointed Murphy is still hopeful the complex will happen. 

Part of what the meeting was about was creating a community action committee to push for actual site work to begin on the complex. What impact that will have on the project remains to be seen.

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