Fort Payne to finalize plans for new sports complex

The Fort Payne City Council met this week to go over plans for a future sports complex.

The city recently purchased approximately 300 acres known to many as the Carden farm. The land is north of the existing complex off of Martin Avenue. Drawings for the projected complex include four baseball fields, five softball fields, six soccer fields, a handicap accessible miracle field and an outdoor amphitheater.

Councilman Wade Hill stated Tuesday that a complex of this size will give the city the opportunity to increase youth sports and grow the number of tournaments the city can bring in.

“It’s taken a lot of time and money to get to this point but that’s what it takes when planning projects of this size,” said Hill. “We are not just planning for now but for our future. These things take time and we want them done right.”

Council President Brian Baine agreed, “We want this plan to be everything we want and need for the future. We need to start with soccer fields as phase one and go from there with the rest” The council were all in agreeance that the full completion of the complex could take several years to finish but they want a full plan and layout for the entire complex to assist with future phases of the projects.

Tom Shanklin, with DC Inferno Soccer, spoke on behalf of the program. DC Inferno has run the soccer program since 2015 when they took it over from Phil Elton. In 2019, there were 572 youth soccer players and 80 competitive players who played through DC Inferno.

“Right now with the fields and space we have, there is no room for growth. This plan for the new complex give us room to grow” said Shanklin. “Fort Payne is the county seat but our soccer program covers the whole county and surrounding counties. We try to fill our calendar with games and tournaments that bring people from all over the state which brings revenue to our community because those people will stay in our hotels, eat at our restaurants, buy gas and spend money in our community.”

In 2019, DC Inferno hosted four major tournaments that brought in over 600 players, plus coaches and their families. This year, the program is already in the works to add more tournaments.

“Coming up on Jan. 25 we are hosting a tournament of 27 teams made up of 450 players and plus their families. The whole parking lot will be filled with buses” stated Shanklin.

Last year the program started the “Boom Days” showcase tournament the same weekend as Boom Days Heritage Festival put on by the City of Fort Payne. Combining tournaments with city events draws out of town people and offers them something to do while here.

“The Boom Days tournament brought in 54 teams and we promoted to all of these people to go downtown and enjoy Boom Days,” said Shanklin.

Wade Hill stated that the council would like to host a public meeting in February to show the public updates of all the projects the city has going on.

“I would like to have story boards on display so people can see exactly what we are looking at doing with each project.”

Once the final plans for the complex are complete the council will vote to approve in an upcoming meeting. The next regular council meeting is set for January 21st at noon.

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