Residents of Fort Madison have wanted a sports complex for years. Generations of kids have had to leave the small Southeastern Iowa town to play ball in tournaments. But not anymore. This time next year, kids will be able to play in their own backyard.
Their own backyard is where the kids want to play. Instead of leaving their home town in Fort Madison, now teams can stay at home and play with their sporting complex.
"This is just a great day. A great day for the city. A great day for the community. A great day for the region. We are actually making something happen here that has been a long time in the making," Fort Madison Mayor Brad Randolph said.
The complex has been in the making for just over eighteen months as donations finally reached the mark where they could get started building their state of the art sporting complex.
"We are going to have three baseball/softball combo fields. They are going to be fully lit and state of the art in regards to the grass/turf that we will be using and the infield dirt that we will be using. The we will have three soccer/football fields," Complex Committee Chair Marty Dean said.
The city has pitched in five hundred thousand dollars to get the complex started at hopes to attract more businesses and tourists to the area.
"It gives us the opportunity to attract other teams into the area. Hopefully they will bring their families and other supporters. They will be able to utilize the restaurants, hotels, and other local amenities," Dean said.
The land off 48th street was donated by two farmers. Donations came from local business all over Fort Madison.
"If we did not build it now the chances of us building it were probably not very good. Then we originally thought three million was a good figure to shoot for. Then we tailored the quality of the fields and what we wanted to that figure," Dean said.
After a few more donations the committee is up to 3.65 million dollars. "If you build it, he will come" is a line from the baseball movie Field of Dreams and that is exactly what the city hopes will happen.
"We are giving the kids a really first class facility. We are you used to playing at some of the local parks or we have to go out of town.to do that but now we have to ability to bring that to them right here," Mayor Randolph said.
Fort Madison will not run the complex, but rather the complex committee will manage it.
Construction begins Friday and Marty Dean says the complex will be up and running by June of 2014.