Journal Star Editorial Board
Last week’s announcement of a multimillion-dollar youth baseball complex, which could bring 100,000 new visitors to the city and have a $9 million economic impact in the first year, can be deemed nothing less than a triumph for Lincoln.
Journal Star business reporter Matt Olberding wrote last week that the Lincoln Youth Complex, estimated to cost $27 million to build, will offer eight artificial turf fields, including stadiums that will be home to Nebraska Wesleyan University baseball and softball teams. The stadiums will have covered seating with capacity for several hundred fans, lights and batting cages.
The Lincoln Youth Complex will be built on land north of Oak Lake Park that’s southeast of the intersection of First Street and Cornhusker Highway. Construction is expected to start in the spring, with the first games slated to be played in fall 2024.
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We trust that Lincoln’s decisionmakers did their due diligence when pulling the trigger on a multimillion-dollar youth baseball complex that will be located in the middle of the city’s flood plain.
Nobody wants their game called by wet field conditions.
Then again, this isn’t the first time the city has built in similar conditions. Speedway Sports Complex as well as a lot of Lincoln’s greenspaces are in the flood plain.
The area surrounding Oak Lake has long been targeted to be the home of a youth baseball and softball complex, but plans have failed to get off the ground until now.
A group of Lincoln’s business leaders had been trying since 2006 to get the project off the ground. Sixteen years later, the complex will become a reality.
They understand that youth sports are big business, and that investing in youth — be it sports or schools — is rarely a bad thing.
There’s a solid slate of private donors, including former Husker stars Darin Erstad and Alex Gordon.
In addition, the Kansas City Royals, as well as local business like Sampson Construction, Ameritas, NEBCO and Union Bank have made sizeable donations.
Erstad, who coached for eight seasons at Nebraska and is currently watching his own children play at the youth level, had another reason for donating to a baseball complex in Lincoln.
“I’m sick and tired of having to travel a long ways to go do these things,” he said.
He’s got a point. Having a sports complex in town is convenient and saves a lot of local families some of the cost of raising a young ballplayer.
That’s just another perk to a plan that — weather permitting — we find few faults.