CROWN POINT | Softball play is set to start soon at three new fields constructed in the city-owned sports complex, officials said.
Two or three more weeks are needed to put finishing touches on a second round of sports complex improvements, which include the new softball fields, a concession and restroom building, viewing stands, fencing, lighting and parking, Mayor David Uran said.
Cold and wet weather has prolonged completion of the work, officials said.
The new fields by later this summer are expected to host softball league play and tournaments, including playoffs for girls softball league teams from Lake and Porter counties, city Parks Director Jennie Burgess said.
Plans are for the park to host more tournaments and league play as fields come available after construction.
A third round of work is planned at the south end of the 95-acre complex starting in mid-July.
Four new youth-sized softball fields will be installed to replace existing ones. One of the four fields will be designed with enhanced seating suitable for tournament play.
The construction will shift girls softball 2013 end-of-season tournament play to the three new fields, Burgess said.
The third phase of work is expected to end in time for the 2014 softball season.
The third round of improvements is estimated to cost $4 million and will be paid with help from a $2 million matching grant pledged by local businessman and philanthropist Dean White, through his Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation.
The grant matches $2 million of city redevelopment dollars already committed to the project.
Included in the cost are a new concession and restroom building, paved parking for up to 650 cars, improved lighting and the extension of Bulldog Boulevard to the south end of the complex. Bulldog Boulevard currently accesses the sports complex from North Street, on the north end of the complex.
A first round of improvements in 2011 added two artificial turf playing fields for youth football, soccer and lacrosse off North Street. The three new softball fields set to open soon in the second phase of work were built starting last spring on the northwest side of the park.
New concession and restroom buildings and upgraded parking, lighting and road access to both sets of playing fields were included in the nearly $7.5 million total cost of the first two phases.
White contributed a total of $3.1 million in matching funds to the cost of the two earlier projects. Other funding was a combination of redevelopment dollars, the $1.1 million proceeds of the sale of city-owned land and an earlier $1.5 million bond sale authorized by city officials.
A potential fourth phase of work would be a year-round indoor sports venue. A private partnership is being sought for the venue, Uran said earlier.