After a few weeks of rough weather, officials with Championship Park now are aiming to complete the project by the end of the year, a slight pushback from Henke Development Group’s initial Thanksgiving deadline.
The park, totaling 78.4 acres, is situated at Markland Ave. and U.S. 31 bypass, and will consist of eight baseball diamonds when completed, with four being regulation fields and four smaller fields for youth leagues and softball. The construction cost is approximately $11.4 million.
Phil Sundling, director of development at Henke, said the rain delayed the park’s progress but didn’t stop the workers from continuing to build. Now, a paved road with concrete curbs can be seen cutting through the park totaling one mile, and workers have begun to add turf to the fields.
“As of right now, we lost a little bit with the weather, a couple weeks back with the rain. We ended up getting, I don’t know how many inches, but quite a bit of rain,” Sundling said. “I would say we’re still shooting for wrapping up certainly by the end of the year.”
Puddles of rainwater still can be seen in the dirt, despite the majority of the rain falling weeks ago. It takes a while to dry, Sundling said, and if the rain would have held off a bit more than it did, Henke would have been further along.
At this point in construction, the rain shouldn’t stall them much going forward.
“Now that the stone is on the base, they don’t lose any days when it comes to turfing. It’s more getting trucks in and out. You don’t want to track mud all over everything,” he said. “Now that we’re paved out and driving on dry pavement, we’re in a lot better shape.”
The new completion goal doesn’t include the allocated space for surrounding restaurants, new offices, retail stores and hotels, which Sundling said will continue to be built into the spring.
But, as of now, there are parking lots starting to take shape and concession areas nearing completion. Though the construction will continue into the spring for retail projects, the fields will be in use during that time, so long as there are competitions being held.
“I talked to the city last week, and it sounds like they’re going to start gearing up in the spring for leagues and stuff,” Sundling said.
Now that it’s coming together, Sundling said turning a big corner in the project gives it new life, and adding the turf is the icing on the cake.
“We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. My favorite part is when they start putting the turf down, man. Again, you stare at mud for so long, and then all the sudden the grass starts growing. It’s just, it’s exciting,” Sundling said.