BROWNSBURG — There’s a sign along U.S. 136 that reads “Hendricks County Sports Center coming soon,” and with a groundbreaking in late 2012, county residents can now see the complex coming to fruition.
The 64-acre Planned Unit Development property is about a third of a mile west of Raceway Road, adjacent to the Clermont Lakes subdivision. While the intention is eventually to have an indoor sports use facility on the grounds, it will start out with softball diamonds, according to the Hendricks County Planning and Building Department.
Plans prepared by Banning Engineering in Plainfield indicate an area set aside for future buildings just west of where the four softball diamonds are going to be.
“This was a commercial portion of the Planned Unit Development (PUD) and the commercial activities weren’t working well, so they decided to amend it to allow for this type of activity,” said Don Reitz, director of the county’s planning and building department.
That amendment was voted on this past February. Originally, plans were to potentially host leagues in sports such as soccer and basketball.
Harrison Epperly, president of the Hendricks County Sports Center, said that is still the plan, though it will come in two phases.
“We hope to start playing ball sometime in the latter part of May and early June,” Epperly said. “Then there will be another year on phase two. What we’re after right now is getting the ball diamonds complete and the soccer field. We’ll have batting cages, and it will be two stories, with an observation deck where you can go on the second floor and watch games.”
He said the county needs the sort of facility that they’re building.
Epperly said baseball and softball leagues are already preparing to use the facility for their competitions, so the market is there.
“I just thought that in my vision of Hendricks County, that’s an area that needs some growth and I just think that this type of facility is needed,” he said. “We’ll eventually have basketball, indoor soccer, and I’m wanting to have something go on for young people who want to do ballet, gymnastics, have a balance beam, and stuff they’re not currently getting.
“The argument for it is that it’s providing a unique service to the community that no other facility offers, at least at this time. The project was approved in January of this past year, but it’s been sputtering for a couple years now. We’re having some very good input and it’ll be a very large facility.”
Brownsburg Town Manager Grant Kleinhenz said the facility could end up being a good complement to the town.
“I know from the town’s perspective, we see it as a supplement to our community programming,” he said. “We’re glad to see it there as it is something that will bring new interest to the community and, in the end, will benefit Brownsburg and the parks department.”
Kleinhenz said the facility could be a huge boon to local businesses, if it’s capable of hosting sporting events that might bring people in from out of town. He said local restaurants and hotels probably stand to gain the most from the sports center’s existence.
Part of the original plans called for a concession area for alcohol sales, as well as a commitment that no games would be scheduled after 10 p.m. Plans also call for an 800-foot natural border around the property’s north side.