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New Mishawaka sports complex in the works

Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 5:18 PM EDT
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MISHAWAKA, Ind. (WNDU) - The idea of building a multi-million-dollar youth sports facility in Mishawaka has been studied since 2016, and it will be studied some more.

At this point, it is assumed that something will be built, the question is what?

“This whole thing started when Compton (Ice Arena at Notre Dame) opened in 2011,” said Rob DeCleene, Executive Director of Visit South Bend/ Mishawaka. “And we saw how great Compton and The Ice Box, what a great combination that was.”

In 2019, hockey tournaments alone were responsible for 24,000 hotel room rentals in St. Joseph County. That’s about 62-percent of all the room rentals tied to youth sports that year.

Now, the idea of adding two rinks to the Mishawaka youth sports facility is being studied. “I think that’s one of the questions, is it an advantage, can we accommodate it, because the last thing we also want to do is cannibalize on what we’re already successful on.”

Officials are also studying the idea of adding an outdoor sports component by building four baseball and four softball fields on the property.

Depending on what options are chosen, the price tag is expected to range from $40 million to $50 million. “But what we currently don’t have is an ability to really pursue basketball, volleyball, cheer, dance, fencing, futsal, you name it, indoor soccer in the wintertime,” DeCleene explained. In 2019 we did about 38,500 room nights of youth sports, and then even in the pandemic year of 2020 we did do just about half that, right at 20,000 which just goes to show you the staying power and the ability of youth sports to still flourish in even in the worst of times.”

By the end of the year, a lot more funding for the project could be in the pipeline. A proposed increase in the tax charged on hotel room rentals could go before the St. Joseph County Council as early as July. The proposal would also increase the amount of the tax proceeds dedicated to the sports complex project which would be located off Douglas Road east of Fir.

The City of Mishawaka has been working closely with Klipsch-Card, a firm that has developed and operated similar facilities in Indiana.

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