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N. Myrtle Beach sports complex exceeds expectations

By Dawn Bryant
dbryant@thesunnews.com

The planned sports complex in North Myrtle Beach already is outperforming expectations, the city says, and it’s still a year away from opening.

The city said Thursday it had already lined up events that would bring an estimated $13.5 million to the city during the complex’s first nine months of operation in 2014, about $3 million more than originally expected for the first 12 months, North Myrtle Beach spokesman Pat Dowling said. Officials originally expected $10.6 million during the complex’s first year, according to a Coastal Carolina University study done in 2011.

“They are already ahead of the game,” Dowling said.

Most of the events lined up for March 2014, when the complex opens, through November 2014 are collegiate training and tournaments and include baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse and others, Dowling said. He declined to name the events, saying the city had verbal contracts and didn’t want to tip off other cities that might try to lure the same event.

The National Collegiate Sports Invitational, which lasts three weeks and is expected to bring 60 softball and 24 baseball teams to the beach, will christen the complex as its first event scheduled for March 2014. The city has hosted that event the past few years at its existing facilities.

The city issued $15 million in general obligation bonds to buy the land and help pay for construction of the complex, and raised the property tax rate by six mills for eight years to generate revenue to pay for it.

“We need to grow the economy, especially the offseason,” Dowling said of why the city made the investment. “Sports tourism is a great way to fill in your off season.”

Sports events pumped about $12 million into North Myrtle Beach during the 2012 budget year, he said.

The complex, which includes a 27-acre lake, will have six baseball-softball fields, up to eight soccer-football-lacrosse fields, an amphitheater, playgrounds, a dog park and picnic shelters. There also will be a Veterans Plaza with a gathering area and a multi-purpose trail. The complex is scheduled to be finished in February 2014.

Bryant: 843-626-0296. On Twitter: @TSN_dawnbryant.
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