HORIZON WEST — A mega sports complex plan with ideation origins from Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs’ time as District 1 Orange County commissioner is waiting for a crew to pick up its tools and get to work on Tiny Road, just south of Winter Garden and east of State Road 429.
Jacobs heard surplus land at this site had become available, so based on the growth Horizon West was starting to show, designs for this complex to serve the community began taking shape in 2005 or 2006, Orange County Parks Manager Matt Suedmeyer said.
“It’s in an area of the county that’s growing the most, so there’s a lot of need for youth and adult sports in this area due to all the growth,” he said.
Based on local climate and its proximity to theme parks and major attractions, the complex would be for major regional tournaments, not just local sports and downtime, Suedmeyer said.
“Its location is perfect because it’s right along (S.R.) 429 with quick access to (Interstate) 4 and the turnpike,” he said. “And then of course, it has all the lodging and everything that anyone would need for overnight for weekend tournaments at the resorts or at the theme parks.”
Officials have overseen a feasibility study and hired a consultant to examine demand in the region to develop such a large sports complex, as well as costs and necessary amenities for sports tourism, Suedmeyer said.
Results showed this plan focus on large gridiron and diamond fields — 16 each.
“The next thing is to find the money to build it,” he said. “We’ve come up with an estimated cost — depending on the amenities and everything — of about $35 million to $45 million over many years.”
The county INVEST program Jacobs unveiled this June includes $20 million for enhanced parks and recreation facilities such as this, $17.5 million of which will be leveraged for matching funds from private, not-for-profit and government agencies, Suedmeyer said. The other $2.5 million is budgeted for the West Orange Relief High School stadium.
Parks staff is working with local developers and large corporations to figure out how to fund the project and when physical construction could begin. The area of the complex will wrap around the northern and western sides of Bridgewater Middle School to reach the shore of Lake Hancock as part of the Horizon West Town Center Master Plan.