By Richard Sullins | This story appeared in the August printed edition of The Rant Monthly

The long-awaited Multi-Sports Complex came a step closer to reality in July when county commissioners approved the purchase of property located near the intersection of U.S. Highway 421 and N.C. Highway 42, known locally as Broadway Road. The purchase of the 119.82 acre tract of land was authorized in November 2020, when 58.59 percent of voters approved a bond referendum for the project.

The budget for the purchase of the land that was approved by a unanimous vote of the commissioners includes a payment of $1.914 million for the Myrtle Matthews Poe property that will be combined with a donated tract of land from the Stewart family through Wesara Associates LLC. The commission’s action also provided payment for the $102,110 in due diligence work done by the McAdams civil engineering firm in Durham.

The county had contracted with McAdams earlier this year to perform the due diligence work because land development can be a risky business. Generally speaking, the larger the tract of land, the greater the potential risk and this type of research into the property is routinely performed to determine the viability and feasibility of developing a property for its intended use.

Kevin Brown, Chair of the Sanford Tourism Development Authority, said that his group had been forced to pass on several recent opportunities to host athletic tournaments because the county does not have currently operating facilities that meet required standards for soccer, or for high school baseball and softball.

Brown echoed comments made earlier by 17-year-old Carolina Simpkins, a goalkeeper with the Sanford Area Soccer League, who told the board, “it’s too late for me, but it’s not too late for all of those girls and boys who are coming behind me. They have dreams and aspirations, too, and so I’m asking you tonight to step up to the plate and do what is needed for them. Please don’t let them down.”

The McAdams group reported to the commissioners that the site that had been selected for purchase was well-suited for the proposed complex, which will have space for at least 10 multi-purpose fields and five baseball fields, all full-sized. The land lies within the Sanford city limits and no rezoning will be necessary, since the proposed uses are already permitted within the existing zoning districts. Water and sewer lines are readily available, although sewer capacity might need to be upgraded depending on the timing of the development.

Access to the property will be from Broadway Road and there will be none available from U.S. 421. Broadway Road is set for a widening project in the coming months by the state Department of Transportation and McAdams recommended early coordination with the county to avoid any potential conflicts that could lead to construction delays.

With the purchase of the property approved by the commissioners, the process of signing contracts and finalizing agreements will begin. The county is currently waiting to close on a couple of properties, one of which has been given an extension due to the death of a property owner. Once closing takes place, an RFP will be posted for the sports complex design.