MetroParks of Butler County and The Butler County Visitors Bureau announced Tuesday that they will celebrate an official ground breaking Oct. 17 at 10 a.m. for the new athletic complex at West Chester’s Voice of America Park.The athletic complex will feature 22 multipurpose natural grass fields, which are projected to be open for use by the fall of 2014.
“Not only will these new fields expand recreational opportunities for local residents, but the project will begin the transformation of the park into a premier athletic venue that can attract visitors from throughout the Midwest,” said Jonathan Granville, MetroParks executive director.
According to The Butler County Visitors Bureau (BCVB), VOA Park is less than a day’s drive from 65 percent of the entire U.S. population and will be able to host sizeable tournaments with more than 2,000 hotel rooms nearby.
“We are pleased to collaborate with MetroParks on this project and excited about the economic benefit it will bring to Butler County,” said Mark Hecquet, BCVB executive director.
According to MetroParks officials, the current work is the latest effort to implement the Voice of America Park enhancement plan developed with community input in 2009.
The 22 fields are just phase 1 of that enhancement plan for the entire park. This phase will cost approximately $3 million.
Originally, the athletic complex was to consist of 24 multipurpose fields, for soccer, lacrosse, football and other sports, as well as five baseball fields and four softball fields and was projected to cost roughly between $15-to-$25 million ($15 million for grass fields and $25 for artificial turf fields).
According to an economic impact study conducted in 2010 by AECOM Technical Services in Chicago, the original plan could have drawn about 204,000 people annually for tournaments, practices, games and leagues.
MetroParks could add to the athletic complex and provide additional enhancements to VOA Park, but has no timetable in place for other phases of construction at the moment.