South Charlotte

Matthews sportsplex begins second phase

Bulldozers were moving dirt in the background as elected and park officials broke ground on Phase II of the Mecklenburg County Sportsplex at Matthews. From left, Mecklenburg County Commissioner Pat Cotham, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Commissioner Elaine Powell, Matthews Commissioner John Ross, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Commissioner Kendal Bryant, Matthews Commissioner Joe Pata, Matthews Commissioner Jeff Miller, Mecklenburg County Commissioner Chair Trevor Fuller, Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor, Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James, Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio, Matthews Commissioner John Higdon.
Bulldozers were moving dirt in the background as elected and park officials broke ground on Phase II of the Mecklenburg County Sportsplex at Matthews. From left, Mecklenburg County Commissioner Pat Cotham, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Commissioner Elaine Powell, Matthews Commissioner John Ross, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Commissioner Kendal Bryant, Matthews Commissioner Joe Pata, Matthews Commissioner Jeff Miller, Mecklenburg County Commissioner Chair Trevor Fuller, Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor, Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James, Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio, Matthews Commissioner John Higdon. MELINDA JOHNSTON

Construction on the second phase of the Mecklenburg County Regional Sportsplex is now underway.

The official groundbreaking was June 22 on the next phase of the $32 million facility in Matthews.

The first phase of the sportsplex was completed in 2013 and includes five multi-purpose fields, playground equipment and several shelters.

The second phase will add six more fields, a championship field with seating for up to 2,700 spectators, walking/cross country trails and additional shelters, a playground and restrooms.

County Commission Chair Trevor Fuller said the project would rival those across the state.

“This is yet another example of Mecklenburg County’s commitment to provide a high quality of life to its residents. Since opening Day 1, it’s made a high quality impact in Matthews and Mecklenburg County. It will be the premier sportsplex in the state and perhaps in the nation,” Fuller said.

County Commissioner Bill James, who represents District – the area that includes the sportsplex – said it’s a much better use of the property than originally planned.

“This sportsplex was supposed to be a dump. The county bought the land many years ago before I-485 was designed. This land and the land at the Levine Campus was slated for a dump. If not for I-485, this area would have had miles and miles of garbage,” James said.

“I’m excited about the sportsplex and I’m hoping it’s going to be like a Harry Potter book – a series, one after another. Perhaps it will end up with seven phases when all is said and done.”

County Commissioner At-Large Pat Cotham braved the 90-plus degree heat to take part in the groundbreaking. As an elected official, she said it’s a great project for all county residents. She also said she has a personal interest in the sportsplex.

“My grandson, Elliot Meek, is four years old and played preschool soccer here. I was here on many Saturday mornings with other parents and grandparents watching hundreds of preschools learning how to play,” Cotham said.

Officials say Phase 1 has brought hundreds of thousands of dollars to the area with the numerous games and tournaments drawing out-of-town guests to area hotels, restaurants and shops.

Once Phase II opens in late 2016, those numbers will continue to increase.

Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor said he couldn’t be happier.

“This facility has been a tremendous windfall not only for Matthews, but for the whole region – Mecklenburg and Union Counties,” Taylor said.

The sportsplex is in the town of Matthews at 1515 Tanktown Road, but is owned and operated by Mecklenburg County. The town of Matthews kicked in $2 million for the project, with Mecklenburg County paying the rest through park bonds.

The 160-acre sportsplex is off I-485 near the Independence Boulevard interchange behind the Ashley Furniture Store. It sits next to 120 acres of privately held land that the town hopes to see privately developed as a mixed-use family entertainment complex featuring restaurants, hotels, shops and other family-friendly venues.

Melinda Johnston is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Melinda? Email her at m.johnston@carolina.rr.com.

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