Sports recreation can be linked to economic development, according to the project manager who helped oversee the creation of Lawton’s first parks master plan.
Nate Clair, of Halff Associates, said Lawton needed new and modern sports fields and facilities, including tournament-type sports fields.
“It’s the best thing for economic development,” Clair said, adding that quality fields would attract regional play to Lawton, citing an argument made by city leaders in recent years: family and children. friends accompanying the players to Lawton will spend the money. here.
These were part of the sports-related recommendations made by the parks master plan that Halff Associates spent almost a year recreating for the town of Lawton, after analyzing the town’s four sports complexes in the Ahlschlager and McMahon in south Lawton, Eastside Park in east Lawton and Grandview Park in west Lawton. Paired with private athletic facilities provided by the Lawton YMCA, Lawton Soccer Club, Lawton Public Schools, Cameron University and Fort Sill, these facilities offer a variety of sports for youth and adults, according to the report.
But, there is a need for more, Clair said.
The City of Lawton Sports Facilities offer 20 public youth baseball fields and five adult softball fields: eight each in Ahschlager and Grandview, five in McMahon and four in Eastside. The Ahlschlager park is used for the coaches field, tee-ball and flag football. Softball and soccer are played in Eastside, while baseball and soccer are played at Grandview Park and the four adjacent Lawton public schools. McMahon Park hosts adult softball.
In terms of other sports, basketball and volleyball are played in city recreation centers, while city parks offer 73 safety nets for basketball and softball games. The city has 24 mixed-use public grounds that can be used for football or soccer practice or matches, but there are no “designated scheduled training grounds” within Lawton, according to the analysis. Halff. There are also no statutory soccer fields maintained by the Town of Lawton; the Big Green soccer complex and its 35 fields are owned by the Lawton Soccer Club.
While there is some equipment owned by the YMCA, Lawton Public Schools and Cameron University, Halff’s report says the Town of Lawton should always consider improving its game, in terms of providing quality grounds. that can accommodate tournament type events. That’s why one of the report’s recommendations is to create more training grounds, to keep the real “quality playing fields,” Clair said.
The current state of the city’s sports grounds “acts as a deterrent to attracting more regional tournaments,” the report said. Specific recommendations for improving grounds and outdoor courts include making them accessible to the ADA, improving surface conditions, replacing netting and fencing, reconditioning turf, and updating yard buildings. support. Some have been targeted for additional fields: Lee West Park, in southwest Lawton, is a natural site, the report says.
The report and Halff also applauded the town of Lawton’s plans to move forward with an indoor youth sports complex, a project run by local businessmen who won a grant from town leaders for a designation of up to $ 8 million in the 2019 Capital Improvement Program for that $ 11 million. , 86,000 square foot complex.
The complex “provides an opportunity for a top-notch facility for indoor soccer, basketball and volleyball, and could serve as a revenue generator for the city,” the report said. Halff said consideration should be given to designating an outside authority to manage the sports complex, which would allow city staff to “focus on maintaining the parks and administering the programs.”
City leaders have previously said the complex will be located in Elmer Thomas Park, a recommendation made by the master plan because this location could “tap into existing visitor traffic there and visibility of the site from the I- 44 ”. City officials presented a plan earlier this month that would place the complex south of Lake Helen, in an area of the park close to the monument area along Northwest 3rd Street.