Sports complex taking shapePublished 9:34am Thursday, June 28, 2012
An idea for an ice rink spawned Edwardsburg Sports Complex, which seems like the only thing missing from a $5 million fields of dreams taking shape on 102 acres.
A parade of red trucks deposits millings for roadways and parking lots removed as part of the U.S. 12 paving project passing in front of the former Wilkinson farm.
A dedicated access lane will be included for $40,000.
A community-wide effort that could benefit more than 11,000 children annually ages 4 to 19, ESC — its logo looks like an escape key on a computer — is “where kids, community and athletics come together” for lighted football, softball, baseball, soccer, volleyball and basketball.
Little League, Rocket Football and Edwardsburg Youth Soccer, which inaugurated the complex with its fall season, especially need room to grow.
Fields historically provided by Edwardsburg Public Schools served 1,200 players in 2007.
As Edwardsburg’s rural climate evolves and the community grows around Blue Ribbon schools, the district needs its land. Soccer fields were lost to construction of the administration building and Intermediate School.
There will be 10 soccer and football fields when the complex is complete.
“On some fields, they could play by the spring of 2014,” President Ed Patzer said Friday. “It would be a great place for storage, to get out of the weather, to have classroom instruction, review videos, have parties or a restaurant with an outdoor patio.”
Patzer, a school board member and accountant, said, “What got me excited about doing this was having breakfast with a client who wanted to build an ice rink in Edwardsburg because his daughter figure skated. I’d been thinking about doing this for years, since my son played Little League. We’re at about $1.9 million now. My goal is $2.7 million by the end of this year. The cross country team will probably run here, instead of going to Dowagiac.”
As a nonprofit 501(c)(3), gifts are tax-deductible. A land swap with AEP gained an acre plus two buildings, with one renovated into an office and garage, and made ESC $18,000. There will be at least six baseball and softball diamonds, which adult leagues could use, fitness trails, a playground and a sledding hill.
The board guiding a $3.58 million fundraising effort also includes Brian Slack, Scott Anson, Sean Smith, Sue Horning, Scott Mackling, Jerry Duck and Roseann Marchetti.
“There will be a full-time staff” for maintenance, Patzer said. “The objective is to have corporate donors for $100,000, plus player fees, tournament fees, concessions. We think it will take a $160,000 to $180,000 budget.” An endowment fund of $500,000 to $1 million will fund capital improvements and scholarships.
Community input will drive expansion, which may include indoor courts, swimming or, yes, an ice arena.