YOUNGSVILLE— The sprawling $16 million sports complex under construction near Chemin Metairie Parkway isn’t just a park but also an economic engine for the growing city south of the parish seat, city and state leaders said during a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday.

The complex will feature soccer fields, baseball fields, tennis courts, a playground, concession stands, T-ball fields and a community center. The venue provides services residents said they wanted, and it is expected to attract tournaments and visitors to the city, Youngsville Mayor Wilson Viator. said

“Our people were taking their kids to play soccer in Lafayette at Moore Park and were tired of driving across the parish,” Viator said.

The sports complex will be on a 70-acre tract bordered by Chemin Metairie Parkway, Savoy Road and La. 743 that was donated by Young’s Industries, a local development company. Engineering for the project was completed by C.H. Fenstermaker & Associates, and it was designed by architect Mark Lalande. Trahan Construction of Lake Arthur is the contractor.

In 2011, residents supported the project by voting in favor of a 1-cent sales tax to pay for it. The tax is expected to generate $1.5 million annually.

A second phase of the project involves the construction of a community center.

Viator credited state legislators for their help in securing funding from the state for the community center. He said $3 million was requested, which will cover about 75 percent of the project’s cost, and so far, the city has been allocated $200,000 to begin the design phase for the building.

The complex will provide a home for local teams, but also help attract tournaments to the complex, said Tim Robichaux, the city’s first recreation director.

“Economic development is our main goal and to get the facility to grow,” Robichaux said.

Robichaux led the parks and recreation department in Crowley for 14 years and for the past six years has been the head baseball coach at Notre Dame Catholic High in Crowley. He’ll coach his final season this spring and start his new job full time in May, he said. Meanwhile, he’ll begin work building a staff in anticipation of the park’s completion, he said.

“We want to be up and running when the facility is ready to use,” Robichaux said following the ceremony.

Construction is expected to be complete by mid-December, Viator said.

The sports complex becoming a reality is a credit to area residents who have been involved through a planning process that began nearly two years ago, Viator said.