Holly Springs pushes forward stadium plans

akenney@newsobserver.comMay 31, 2013 

A rendering of the proposed North Main Athletic Facility, created by contractor Withers & Ravenel.

ANDREW KENNEY - AKENNEY@NEWSOBSERVER.COM

— Visions of a sprawling sports hub are crystallizing, but cost and funding remain questions for the North Main Athletic Complex.

The first phase of the project could include eight full tennis courts and two regulation soccer fields. Plans for that segment could emerge by July.

And the town already has sketched a college-style baseball stadium, a special-needs stadium and a tennis center that it could add in a later phase.

There is no price tag on the project yet, but the town has set aside $2 million of debt. A private funding campaign could raise up to $5 million, and the town will consider selling naming rights for the park.

Elected officials and town consultants have pitched the park as a cultural draw for Holly Springs, much the way Cary has spent tens of millions to become a center for Olympic table tennis, professional soccer, amateur baseball and recreation generally.

If built, the Holly Springs park’s 2,400-seat multipurpose stadium could host games for the Coastal Plain League, a collegiate summer league. The facility also could host lacrosse, football and soccer events.

“It’s a way to activate North Main Street,” said Chuck Smith of consulting firm Withers & Ravenel. “I don’t want to compare it to the Durham Bulls, but you see the activity on the street when baseball games are going on.”

The project remains conceptual, but the local government has put almost $200,000 into surveys and planning. The park and stadiums would sit on 42 acres of land, which the town has agreed to buy from Wake County at an up-front cost of $6,000 an acre, plus a further $42,000 an acre to be paid off over the next decade.

In all, the land would cost about $2 million, and the town would be required to install a road and utilities to serve an adjoining county site, which could be used as an elementary school. The area adjoins the South Wake Landfill.

Withers & Ravenel has received about $300,000 for planning and design services. The town expects further details and plans to emerge this summer; a 2014 opening date was discussed last year.

“We’re going to be moving pretty quickly at this point,” said interim Town Manager Chuck Simmons.

Kenney: 919-460-2608 or twitter.com/KenneyOnCary

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