In an effort to bring an athletic/water park to the county, the Vigo County Capital Improvement Board on Wednesday approved the start of a process for a feasibility study.

“The study will help with location and will help show the regional draw area and the revenues that can be brought in,” said Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett, a member of the Capital Improvement Board.

The study would cost $50,000 to $60,000 and would be under a 2-to-1 match from $20 million state Regional Economic Acceleration & Development Initiative (READI) funds distributed to the Wabash River Regional Development Authority.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp., which oversees final approval of those funds, has approved $50,000 for the study, Bennett told the board. “The whole [feasibility] project would not exceed $150,000, but typically a consultant for a study like this costs $50,000 to $60,000. If it costs that, the [READI grant] will pay and we [the CIB] will pay a portion of that,” the mayor said. The idea is to construct a sports and water part complex, likely on Terre Haute’s east side.

“It would be baseball, softball and a small stadium for The Rex, but would also be used for tournaments and other things for baseball,” the mayor said. “They [The Rex] would bring private money to the table to help fund that part, but would use local money to build the rest.

“Maybe we use [Economic Development Income Tax] or casino money and we would help fund the projects and then the operation [of the sports complex] would be covered by the food and beverage tax,” Bennett said.

The complex likely would be located on Terre Haute’s east side “because that is where the land is as we want it to be close to the interstate [I-70] for people to access it, not only locally, but regionally which is important,” the mayor said. “The feasibility study will help drive that [location],” he said.

“We want it to be easy to get to and have plenty of room to grow. We are not trying to compete with Westfield’s Grand Park [Sports Complex], we just want a smaller version of that in our community,” Bennett said. “Travel teams in Terre Haute have to go everywhere in Indiana and rarely play at home as we don’t have those facilities here to host those big tournaments.”

Grand Park Sports Complex in Westfield is a 400-acre park that features 26 baseball and softball diamonds; 31 multipurpose fields for soccer, football and lacrosse; and three indoor facilities.

The CIB approved RJL Solutions to market and issue a request for proposal for the feasibility study. The CIB would first have to vote to approve the request for proposals and then vote to approve a consultant to conduct a study.

“It is similar to what we did for the convention center. We did two different feasibility studies that told us the market and the anticipated revenues. Once we have that done, then we can decide does this make sense to move this forward, will Terre Haute and Vigo County support this kind of thing.

“If not, we will stop. If yes, then we will move forward,” Bennett said.

Under the proposal approved by the CIB, the proposed timeline is:

• Oct. 31 — Requests for Proposal due.
• November — CIB’s New Projects Committee reviews proposals, conducts interviews.
• November — CIB votes to award RFP.
• December to February — consultant conducts feasibility study.
• February — CIB reviews completed study and shares publicly.
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