A New Orleans suburb has drafted plans to build a $20.6 million outdoor youth sports complex in Jefferson Parish, becoming the latest community to pursue new youth sports infrastructure for attracting tourism.
The new John Alario Jr. Sports Complex could open by next summer and would span three-multi sports fields with artificial turf, according to Nola.com. It would also include a concessions building, paved parking, restrooms, and bleachers—potentially expanding to six fields for baseball, softball, football, rugby, soccer, and lacrosse.
Instead of catering to local residents, the planned Louisiana complex between Avondale and Marrero would aim to attract youth sports teams and their families for large tournaments. The Aspen Institute estimates that U.S. families spend between $30 to $40 billion annually on their children’s sports activities.
“The mom, the dad, the aunt, the uncle tend to follow them,” John Alario, the retired Louisiana legislator who secured state money for the project, told Nola.com. “So these people come to your community, they rent your hotel rooms, they go to your restaurants and maybe play golf and go on swamp tours. It’s sports economics.”
Other massive youth sports construction projects in the U.S. include the 230,000-square-foot complex being pursued in Mishawaka, Indiana. Community legislators have taken out $36 million in taxable lease-revenue bonds to build the complex, which developed say could generate $65 million in annual revenue.
MLS club Sporting Kansas City spearheaded the development of a $36 million 10-field youth sports complex that opened in Kansas City last month.
Not all youth sports investments plan out as hoped — an operator in Arizona called Legacy Cares recently filed for bankruptcy after it took out $284 million in bonds to finance a 230-acre complex that opened last year.