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Duke Energy will light up Matthews Sportsplex lots, walkways for 10 years

Mecklenburg County and Town of Matthews commissioners and park and recreation officials broke ground on the second phase of the Mecklenburg County Sportsplex at Matthews in June. The county has entered a 10-year contract with Duke Energy to supply lighting for the area.
Mecklenburg County and Town of Matthews commissioners and park and recreation officials broke ground on the second phase of the Mecklenburg County Sportsplex at Matthews in June. The county has entered a 10-year contract with Duke Energy to supply lighting for the area. Melinda Johnston

For nearly a half-million dollars, Duke Energy will supply the Mecklenburg County Regional Sportsplex in Matthews with lights and lamps to its parking lots and pedestrian walkways for 10 years.

The board of county commissioners unanimously approved Tuesday night a contract between the county and the Charlotte-based energy giant. The agreement requires the county to pay $4,130.70 per month – or $495,684 in a decade – for more than 100 decorative LED light poles at the $32 million sporting complex, now in its second phase of construction.

Plans call for Duke Energy to add 16,000 feet of underground utility lines that will provide power for three parking lots at the 160-acre facility off Interstate 485 near Independence Boulevard.

“We are supporting communities,” said Democratic Commissioner Vilma Leake. “This affords families and seniors to have the ability to be in a well-protected site for activities.”

The county will start paying for the fixtures when the park is nearly complete in late 2016. Duke will install the lights before then but they will not be active until the contractor turns the park over to the county.

Commissioners also approved paying Duke $17,719 – or $492 a month – over three years to upgrade wooden light poles to metal ones and add LED street lighting to Sports Parkway, a new road that will connect individual parts of the complex.

Once the road is finished, the county will back out of the contract and the Town of Matthews will become responsible for upholding the agreement with Duke.

The first phase of the Sportsplex debuted in 2013 with five multi-purpose fields, playground equipment and several shelters. Officials have touted it as a regional tourism draw, generating over $10 million in direct spending since its opening and hosting large-scale events, such as a recent 300-team lacrosse tournament.

Work on the second phase began in June with plans to add six new fields, seating for up to 2,700 spectators, walking/cross-country trails, additional shelters, a playground and restrooms by late 2016.

Once finished, the facility will be one of the largest of its kind in the Southeast, county parks and recreation director Jim Garges said.

Jonathan McFadden: 704-358-6045, @JmcfaddenObsGov

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