More than a decade after the project began, the Nebraska MultiSport Complex in La Vista near Interstate 80 is close to hosting its first competitions.
In its first phase, the complex will have a dozen artificial turf fields with lighting that can be used for soccer, baseball, fast-pitch softball, lacrosse, rugby and flag football. Many will be ready by this fall, and all 12 will be available by spring 2023 for local, regional and national competitions.
“Phase I is currently focused on the development of field sports (and) to create a championship complex,” Craig Scriven, executive director and vice president for the Nebraska MultiSport Complex, said at a Friday press conference. “The Nebraska MultiSport board of directors listened intensely to the community and their needs. And their needs were for a regional sports facility.”
Organizers say they expect the complex to be a “world class facility.” It is being developed near Giles Road and Eastport Parkway, near PayPal and across Giles from Cabela’s.
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The complex is projected to have a $9.9 million annual economic impact, generating $401,000 in sales and lodging taxes. That’s based on estimates that it will draw in over 32,000 overnight visitors and another 39,200 local visitors annually. It will also create jobs during and after construction.
“The out-of-town visitors will come in (and) not only will they stay in our hotels and eat in our restaurants, they’ll visit the SAC museum, they’ll go down to the Old Market,” said La Vista Mayor Doug Kindig. “They’ll go down and catch a lot of the other amenities that we have in this area and that’s why it’s so exciting to us.”
The project initially began back in 2011. In 2015, the Nebraska Multisport Complex board chose La Vista over a site in Council Bluffs after plans fell through to build the complex at Tranquility Park in Omaha. A year after the 2016 groundbreaking, the La Vista complex was being described as a $125 million project with plans for two Olympic-sized pools, 24 tennis courts and 12 soccer fields. But the effort stalled.
Still, in October 2021, La Vista’s City Council issued $3.5 million in economic development bonds to support the project.
“You know throughout all of this, we didn’t lose our faith,” Kindig said. “I’m so happy that’s what it was because we didn’t want to pass on a project of this magnitude. It will become a regional attraction, if not a statewide attraction.”
It wasn’t clear Friday exactly how much the current Phase I plan is costing and what will come next, although there’s talk that Phase II will involve tennis courts, an indoor field house and year-round athletic facilities.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said sports are significant for the state, citing Omaha’s long connection with the College World Series, past hosting of the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials and local university teams. Omaha also will host the NCAA volleyball Final Four in December.
“That just shows the high demand and why we need a field like this multisport complex because Nebraska is getting involved in sports,” Ricketts said.
About 62% of 7- to 16-year-olds are involved in some form of sport, most of which are team sports, he said.
Many young regional and local sports teams travel to other cities to compete because of the limited venues in Nebraska, said Lisa Roskens, a board member with the multisport group. The goal is for more of those tournaments to be held here.
Several youth players from the Evolution Soccer Club are looking forward to the planned turf fields and the prospect of less travel.
“It’s going to be fun because we don’t have to travel all the way to Kansas City and back,” one player said.
Scriven said the complex expects to work with a number of partners including Alliance Soccer Leagues, Bellevue University, Evolution Soccer Club, KC Sports and the National Competitive Soccer League. The complex also received several letters of intent from various organizations for events and tournaments that will be announced closer to the opening of the facility.
“It’s going to be a game changer for the state of Nebraska and for the kids, and also the adults, who will be playing here,” said Mike Cassling, board chairman of the multisport complex.