By Gordon Anderson

Progress on Lee County’s multi-sports complex is about to make a big leap forward. Approved with nearly 59 percent of the vote in the 2020 election, the project’s path toward completion hasn’t been visible when passing by the property at the intersection of Broadway Road and the U.S. 421 bypass, but things have been happening steadily behind the scenes since early 2021.

In February, as he prepared to exit his job as county manager, John Crumpton told The Rant that voters will likely be able to see that progress with their own eyes very soon.

“There are a couple of permit issues that we’re still working on, trying to solidify water and sewer to the site, and what (the North Carolina Department of Transportation) is going to require us to do at the intersection there,” he said. “Other than that, the plans are ready. The construction drawings are ready.”

Crumpton said bid documents are out to potential contractors and the county anticipates having proposals back in hand by June. Then, it will be up to the Lee County Board of Commissioners to select a contractor.

After that, the state’s Local Government Commission will have to approve the county’s borrowing, and Crumpton said the county has tentative plans to address that body in the summer.

Meanwhile, the Old North State League has inquired about having beer and wine sales during Sanford Spinners games even before the team makes the move to the completed sports complex (they currently play on a field at Tramway Park adjacent to Southern Lee High School). The league approached the Lee County Board of Education about the matter, who handed the matter back to the county since Tramway Park is a county facility. The county’s Parks and Recreation advisory board made a favorable recommendation on the issue to the county Board of Commissioners, who would have final say.

It’s unknown how the matter will play out, but Crumpton suggested some board members may have misgivings about the idea because of the park’s proximity to a school. The Spinners’ season takes place almost, but not entirely, outside of Southern Lee’s academic year.

“We’ve had a lot more people talk to us about it, and we’re looking around at more and more communities who are allowing (alcohol sales), and they put safeguards in place,” he said. “We already have insurance that covers us being the host but not the server, so whoever comes and wants to provide it has to have insurance for being in the server. But, you know, when you go to a baseball game, most people expect beer and wine to be there. This is college league level ball, but that’s just what’s expected. So, the commissioners have got to begin to feel comfortable with that.”

In any case, the sports complex will be in use virtually as soon as its completed. Crumpton said the county’s Parks and Recreation Department has more than 300 kids currently playing tee-ball, and any number of other sports are happening at any given time.

“If you go over to O.T. Sloan (Park), and you see what we’ve built over there and what’s getting ready to happen,” he said. “It’s pretty crazy that we could have four tee-ball fields active at one time. It’s a great space. And as long as there’s not a lot of activity going on at the pool or something else like that the parking is adequate. But it’s a little bit of a walk.”