A recent addition to a Butler County park will expand recreational opportunities for area residents and transform the park into a premier athletic venue capable of generating millions in tourism-driven dollars.
Voice of America Park Athletic Complex started renting its 22 new multipurpose athletic fields to the public Monday for everything from soccer, lacrosse and archery, to Ultimate Frisbee, cricket and other sports, said Kelly Barkley, spokeswoman for Metroparks of Butler County.
“Contrary to popular thought of what was out there, this is available for local tournaments, these are available for local people to use,” Barkley said. “It’s not just (for) regional tournaments.”
The new athletic complex is a work in progress, one that started in 2012 to bolster the handful of fields at the park and delivered on a promise that a $3 million first phase would be ready by this fall, she said.
Metroparks of Butler County was able to leverage the capital necessary for the project via a collaboration with the Butler County Visitors Bureau, which committed $1 million over 10 years — $100,000 each year.
Amenities include parking, concessions and restrooms. The park received $1 million in Ohio’s budget for synthetic turf, which will be installed on two of its fields.
Mark Hecquet, the visitors bureau’s executive director, said the partnership between Metroparks and BCVB is focused on developing a regional sports complex that would accommodate large tournaments on the weekends to drive out-of-town visitors, generating millions to the local economy via tourism, while allowing for local play during the week.
“Having 22 quality fields in one location will allow us to compete for and accommodate larger tournaments that will typically draw teams from across the region,” Hecquet said. “In addition to being able to attract larger tournaments that we were not previously able to host, it will also avoid tournaments having to use venues outside of the county.”
Area residents won’t have to wait long for the first high-profile sporting event to be hosted at the athletic complex. The USA Ultimate Great Lakes Regional Tournament takes place there Sept. 20 and 21 with 32 teams from around the Midwest. The event is expected to draw more than 1,000 participants and spectators and pump more than $800,000 into the local economy, according to the visitors bureau.
The athletic complex is a key project to the visitors bureau for many reasons but ultimately is simply about driving thousands of new visitors from throughout the Midwest into Butler County, Hecquet said. That, he said, will generate millions to the Butler County economy through spending in its hotels, restaurants, shops and entertainment venues, he said.
For more information, visit www.yourmetroparks.com. To rent a multi-purpose field, call 513-867-5835.