DAPHNE — A $1.65-million federal grant will boost sports tourism in Daphne by paying much of the cost to install recreational turf on infields in the municipal Sports Complex.The U.S. …
DAPHNE — A $1.65-million federal grant will boost sports tourism in Daphne by paying much of the cost to install recreational turf on infields in the municipal Sports Complex.
The U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration announced that Daphne has been awarded the grant. The money will help pay to place the turf on all infields at the complex.
Mayor Robin LeJeune said the city will also pay about $600,000 toward the project at the complex.
"These funds will help the city continue to boost sports tourism and recreational sports in Daphne," LeJeune said. "The proposed improvements will allow the city to maximize the amount of playability of the fields and then, in turn, provide more of an economic driver for the city's hotels and restaurants."
Crews will install turf on one side of the complex at a time, the mayor said. The project is planned to be completed on all 10 fields by next summer.
The T-ball field is the only field with turf at the complex.
The grant was awarded after the Alabama Congressional Delegation, including Sen. Richard Shelby, Sen. Tommy Tuberville and Rep. Jerry Carl, wrote letters supporting the proposal.
Lee Lawson, director of the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance, also worked with the federal Economic Development Administration on the project, according to a city statement. Local hotels also wrote letters endorsing the project stating that the plan would promote sports tourism and bring visitors to Daphne.
"Anyone we could ask for assistance, we did," LeJeune said. "Our city staff did an amazing job formulating a plan and they executed it perfectly. It was an amazing team effort on their part to build upon the successful economic driver that the sports complex has become since it opened. It immediately became one of the best recreational complexes on the Gulf Coast, and now with the synthetic turf we are taking that complex to the next level."
The 70-acre sports complex is located at 7060 Park Drive. The city has made several additions to the 3-year-old complex in the last year. An all-inclusive playground was added, and a splash pad opened in May next to the playground. Family restrooms are scheduled to open next month.
LeJeune said the city will open a recreational trail system at the Sports Complex this fall. The trail will extend about two miles through wooded areas of the complex.
"It will be really great in that it gives us a true place for cross country runners to have races and it's a great place to be part of nature," LeJeune said. "We're adding pieces to (the complex) all the time. That's the great thing about the Daphne Sports Complex and the vision city leadership had to get it built."