WESTFIELD, Ind. (WISH) – On Friday, the city of Westfield is hosting the grand opening of Grand Park, a massive sports complex at 191st Street and Spring Mill Road.
Andy Cook, mayor of Westfield, said the park features 26 diamonds for baseball and softball and 31 fields for soccer and lacrosse. Basically, any game that’s played on a field could find a home there. Mayor Cook said even marching bands could compete in Grand Park.
“We’ve been waiting for six or seven years for this Opening Day. So, yes, it’s very big,” Mayor Cook told 24-Hour News 8.
The idea of Grand Park arose from a recognition that Westfield needs an industry and the tax base that comes with it. Cook said, as the planners discussed a concept, it had to be something that could compete on a national scale.
The city broke ground on Grand Park in 2011. It is now, Cook said, the largest sports park in the country, if not the world.
The result is so big, as part of the grand opening celebration, they’ll have a ferris wheel at the complex to give people an aerial view of the park.
Cook said some homeowners along the edge of the property didn’t want to sell. However, the city and its developers amassed what they needed from about seven different owners and did not obtain one acre through eminent domain.
Grand Park is a $45 million investment by the city, funded by a bond issue. Cook said the city’s income comes from concession sales, a small percentage of the use fees, vending rights and other payments common in sports development.
However, he added, for the city, it is a break-even proposition. He is relying on development around Grand Park to be the real source of income for Westfield. Several new restaurants have already opened nearby and he expects a developer to close on a hotel deal soon.
Cook said as many as 400,000 people have already visited Grand Park since it opened for competition in March. Cook is also happy about the way this distinguishes his city from his Hamilton County neighbors.
“Carmel has done a great job of diversifying their tax base,” he said. “And what’s happening that’s so interesting here in Hamilton County, is each city kind of emerges with its own identity.”
Youth sports is a multi-billion dollar industry, nationwide. Cook said he’s certain Grand Park will be rivaled around the country, eventually.
Grand Opening events kick off Friday evening at 6 p.m. with a concert, music, and food. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for Saturday along with a fireworks show Saturday evening, followed by a 5K run/walk Sunday morning. Click here for more information on grand opening events.