YOUNGSVILLE — The final big-ticket piece of the Youngsville Sports Complex, the $4 million recreation center on the complex’s west side, is slated to open in mid-February in time to host late-season youth basketball games.
The building is completed, and workers with Glenn Lege Construction are prepping the grounds outside the center for drainage work and a hard-surface parking lot.
“It looks great inside,” Youngsville Mayor Ken Ritter said. “I think our residents are going to be proud of the finished product.”
When it’s opened, the recreation center will feature two full-size basketball courts or smaller courts for volleyball. Temporary, quickly installed walls give managers the ability to divide the gym into four areas. When the center’s parking lot with 166 parking spaces is completed, total parking capacity at the Sports Complex will be more than 1,000.
Though the center itself was completed a few months ago, Ritter said he and the Youngsville City Council decided to keep it closed until the permanent parking lot is completed.
“We did look at temporary parking. I vetted that with council members, and it was ultimately decided as a group that we would just wait and open the building when we get the permanent, hard-surface parking,” Ritter said.
According to figures provided by Youngsville, when the last invoice is paid on the current work, the total cost of the Youngsville Sports Complex will be close to $20 million. The sports complex, which cost about $15.7 million to build, opened in the spring of 2014. At the time, Youngsville officials were finalizing plans for the recreation center and working to shore up funding.
Youngsville’s Sports Complex, located on 70 acres on Chemin Metairie Parkway at Savoy Road, was conceived by residents and officials who wanted a park for youths. They also wanted the economic benefits that come with hosting sporting events that bring in thousands of people from around the state, the nation and the world: In August, the complex’s baseball diamonds hosted visitors and teams from the Philippines, Mexico and around the U.S. at the PONY Mustang Little League World Series, which featured 9- and 10-year-old boys.
Former Mayor Wilson Viator, who spent three terms in office before retiring at the end of 2014, and the council lobbied the residents of Youngsville to back a park. The city is one of the fastest-growing communities in the state and is home to high-earning residents who, according to U.S. Census numbers, have a median household income of more than $102,000 a year.
The complex has drawn businesses to the area, including restaurants like the Hot Dawg Stop, Rotolo’s Pizzeria and Twins Burgers and Sweets, and athletic wear shops.
Youngsville voters in 2011 approved a 1-cent sales tax to pay for the park and its maintenance. The tax, which began being levied in 2013, brings in about $2 million a year.
The recreation center was built with about $3.4 million in Louisiana capital outlay funds. But it wasn’t enough to build the parking lot, so Youngsville’s council allocated more than $500,000 from the city’s general fund to build a hard-surface lot.
Ritter said the city should get the money back when Louisiana puts a higher priority on the parking lot, which also was to be funded with state capital outlay money.
The mayor also said there could be additions to the sports complex, including inexpensive add-ons such as sand volleyball courts for adult leagues.
Ritter said there are more than 100 adult teams that play softball in the complex.
“If we can get half that number into adult volleyball, I think that would provide another value at a relatively low cost,” he said.