The Butler County Visitors Bureau and MetroParks of Butler County held an official ground breaking ceremony Wednesday for their $3 million project that will add 22 multipurpose natural grass athletic fields on 100 acres of Voice of America Park in West Chester Township.The fields, which border Butler-Warren and Tylersville roads, are expected to be available for use by September of 2014.
Based on an economic impact study conducted by AECOM Technical Services in Chicago, the 22 multipurpose fields are projected to bring in $20 million in indirect and direct spending, 200,000 new hotel room requests and 21,000 participants annually by year five after the complex opens (2019).
“With all the amenities that surround the park, the new fields will be something that will be sought after and ultimately will be the envy of other communities that not only surround us, but are also in our region,” said Mark Hecquet, executive director at the visitors bureau.Overall, this project is just phase 1 of a much larger enhancement plan for the biggest Butler County MetroPark. In comparison, fellow MetroParks Forest Run (almost 340 acres) and Rentschler Forest (almost 400 acres) are close in size to the 435-acre VOA Park. Meanwhile, in Hamilton County, Whitewater Forest with 4,345 acres and Winton Woods with 2,555 acres are significantly larger.
Other improvements that are to be incrementally added over time include the addition of softball and baseball diamonds, as well as an amphitheater and expansion to its dog park.
Park officials are also already considering changing the growing grass fields to artificial turf, which will lower maintenance cost, decrease rainouts and allow for longer sports seasons.
Currently, MetroParks is looking for other organizations or businesses to collaborate to help provide funding for the other phases.
The park has already become a destination for larger scale sporting events. Just this past August, the VOA Park hosted the USA Triathlon Youth Junior National Championships and the WWA Wakeboard National Championships.