CROWN POINT | Bo knows Crown Point.
The multi-sport legend will offer his name and guidance to a new sportsplex in the city, The Bo Jackson Legacy Athletic Center, scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2011, Mayor David Uran announced at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
A demonstrated passion for sports in Northwest Indiana has helped to bring plans for a new sports complex to the city in an area between North and South streets, said Jim Thompson, president of Bo Jackson Elite Sports.
"I've experienced what Indiana's passion for sports is and that is what has attracted me to that area," Thompson said. He also said he felt comfortable working with city officials and officials with the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority.
Uran said when the city approached Bo Jackson Elite Sports, it was impressed with the foundation the group builds for children in character development, educational development and athletic development.
"We went to several locations in Indiana and Illinois," Uran said. "When we build it the first time, we want to do it right the first time."
Although he was scheduled to be present at the announcement, Jackson was recovering from surgery Wednesday, Thompson said.
"Bo Jackson couldn't be here, but Bo is here," Uran said.
Crown Point created the Youth Sports Commission in 2007 to look at the youth sports needs of the city and to design a facility that could operate 12 months a year.
The partnership between Crown Point and Bo Jackson Elite Sports will be a public-to-private venture to bring the complex to a 91-acre piece of city-owned property on the former site of the city's water plant.
The location is easily accessible from two interchanges along Interstate 65 - the existing one at U.S. 231, and the one under construction at 109th Avenue. The 109th work is expected to be completed in June.
Thompson, who along with former Major League Baseball player John Cangelosi and former two-sport superstar Jackson formed the company, said the group is excited about bringing the facility to Lake County that will compete to serve as hosts for local, state, regional and national athletic tournaments.
Thompson said children in the Midwest are at a disadvantage because they really need to practice 12 months a year to be able to compete for scholarships, but the facility helps combat that problem.
Uran said the group will offer $3.4 million toward the $16 million project. The rest of the money will come from user fees and soliciting funds from sponsors, foundations and grants.
The facility will have two buildings, a 12,300-square-foot "brick and mortar" building that will house the Crown Point Parks and Recreation Department, a community room, athletic apparel store and food court. The second building will be a 155,904-square-foot dome with space for two full size baseball and softball fields, four soccer fields, four youth football fields, four full-sized basketball courts and eight full-sized volleyball courts.
At the news conference, audience members watched a fly-through of the facility created by Valparaiso's Design Organization Inc.
While a majority of the time the facility will be used for the city's youth sports programs and large tournaments, Uran also said there will be scheduled community "open gym," but those details are still in the process of being worked out.
While the facility is being built, the existing fields on North Street will remain in use, Uran said.
"Bo has fallen in love with the deal," Thompson said.
Times staff writer Chris Keller contributed to this report.