What does VOA’s Athletic Complex mean for Butler County? Millions of dollars, nearly 100K visitors

The Voice of America Athletic Complex has proven to be “a huge economic driver” in the region, and with nearly 20 soccer tournaments scheduled this year, officials expected that to continue.

The complex, located inside the 435-acre MetroParks in West Chester Twp., generated a $22.8 economic benefit for the region in 2018, according to the Butler County Visitors Bureau.

Since the facility’s opening in 2014, the total investment for improvements has been $8.57 million, with a total economic benefit from those major tournaments of $64.8 million, said Kelly Barkley, supervisor of Community & Park Connections.

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When MetroParks, with the help of numerous partners, constructed the Athletic Complex improvements, there were two goals: Enhance the “quality of life for the local community” and to “contribute significantly to the financial well-being” of the region, said Cynamon Trokhan, president of the MetroParks Board of Park Commissioners.

Last year, 15 sporting events were held at the complex and drew more than 84,000 spectators and participants. The attendance could have climbed to more than 100,000 if three large soccer tournaments hadn’t been rained out, Barkley said.

She said 18 soccer tournaments are scheduled so far this year with about 100,000 spectators and players expected to attend.

The Athletic Complex features 20 natural grass multipurpose playing fields, with two additional natural grass fields that will be ready to play in fall, Barkley said. The center nine fields include two lighted synthetic turf fields. The park also includes six grass practice fields adjacent to the complex that can be reserved.

Besides the tournaments, the park is seeing an increase in the number of visitors, Barkley said. She said 1,572 people visited the park daily since October 2018, and she expects those numbers to increase when warmer weather arrives.

Tracy Kocher, marketing director for the Butler County Visitors Bureau, said the entertainment and dining options and medical facilities near the Athletic Complex make tournaments there “very appealing” to sports organizers.

Barkley said the location of the Athletic Complex, seven minutes from I-75 with access from I-71 because of improvements on Tylersville Road, is another drawing card.

The complex will be just one major tourism attraction in the region when Spooky Nook indoor sports complex and convention center opens in Hamilton in mid-2021. Located at the former Champion Paper, Spooky Nook should draw about a million visitors a year to the city, officials said.

Hamilton officials have committed $26 million of the $144 million it will take to transform the deserted Champion paper mill into the Spooky Nook Sports complex. The complex will include the sports complex, a fitness center, hotel, restaurants, brewery, meeting and event space, officials said.

Barkley said she welcomes the opening of Spooky Nook because it will “augment the value of the entire region. It’s not a competitive thing.”

Neighboring Warren County calls itself “Ohio’s Playground” because tourism is one of the county’s leading industries. Warren County boasts 12 million visitors annually, who spend $1.244 billion and generate $148.8 million in taxes, according to a June 2018 report from the visitors bureau.

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