By Sarrah Peters
On Tuesday, September 16, about a dozen contractors and subcontractors met at the Etowah-Gadsden Chamber of Commerce for a pre-bid conference for the Etowah County Mega Sports Complex.
The meeting was mandatory for contractors, landscapers and irrigation and turf specialists who plan to enter a bid for the construction of the first phase of the project.
“When I was in the state legislature, this was my vision in 2002,” said Craig Ford, Sports Complex Authority member. “I am ecstatic to see this many [people] here interested in this project. Thank you for coming. Not only will we create a project for kids to have a safe playing environment, but we will also create some local jobs.”
Ford said that when he introduced the idea, it was called a “pie in the sky” idea, but now, 17 years later, the project is underway.
“There’s no reason why we here in Eto-wah County can’t have the best sportsplex in the state,” said Ford.
Chambless King Architects created the plans for the project, and architect Mike Shows briefed attendees on what work will be in the project, which includes landscaping, sidewalks, sod, irrigation and parking work. The completed project will include six lighted fields and two additional fields, a pavilion, a maintenance building and a concessions and restroom building.
Burke said that the eight fields will accommodate tournaments with over 800 soccer players.
Shows said that the fields will be bid at a later date, but some drainage work for the fields was included in this bid.
The bids for the first stage will be opened on Thursday, October 3, at 2 p.m. Contractors are expected to complete the work within 240 days of the bid being awarded.
“After the bids are open, we will know what kind of money we are talking about,” said omplex Authority Chairman Ralph Burke. “Hopefully then we will get a good product for what we’ve got.”
Burke invited the contractors to visit the site, located off of Kinzie Lane. Rainbow City is working on the construction of a road to connect Kinzie Lane to Lindsey Lane, which will provide access to the site from Alabama Highway 77.
“That is the first road that Etowah County has built in two decades,” said Ford. “It’s going to ease traffic for school children. It’s going to improve quality of life and provide quicker routes for emergency response. It will help economic development in that area.
“We are also looking at the possibility of doing things that don’t cost a lot of money, like a cross country trail, a dog park, archery ranges and possibly RV setups,” said Burke. “Along with this we are going to work on the perimeter of the area, too.”
“We are offering something that Etowah County has never had – a soccer complex with future plans of having a baseball/softball complex, dog park, RV park, archery and football,” said Ford. “Etowah County has never had a complex like this. And we are trying to turn a dime into a dollar, so we need partnerships. The cities are going to benefit from it with people traveling here from out-of-town to spending their dollars here.”