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Rendition of Hammond Sportsplex

A rendition of the proposed Hammond Sportsplex expected to break ground in June.

HAMMOND — The city's Redevelopment Commission has approved an agreement with a contractor to oversee construction of a multimillion-dollar sports complex at the site of the old Woodmar Mall.

The agreement calls for Madison Construction Co., of Orland Park, Illinois, to be paid a fee of about $858,000 for the Hammond Sportsplex. The sports complex will have a maximum contract budget of $17,946,273, subject to change orders that could raise or lower the final price.

The facility is expected to break ground in June and take about a year to complete. 

The city last year received approval of an $8.7 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the Hammond Sportsplex. The city initially planned to pay that money back through future allocations of Community Development Block Grant money the city was expected to receive between now and 2035.

Officials have talked about using additional block grant money along with tax increment financing money to pay for the remainder of the project. While the block grant program is slated for elimination in President Donald Trump's proposed budget, it is a popular program with numerous communities and many officials think it will be retained in the final federal budget.

Phil Taillon, executive director of Hammond's Planning and Development Department, said tax increment financing money raised in the Hammond Central Allocation Area can be used as an alternate funding source if the block grant money is no longer available.

The facility's features would include two indoor soccer fields, six basketball courts, 12 volleyball courts, six indoor batting cages, and an upper level track. The track of more than a quarter-mile could be used for walking and running as well as for observation of sporting events taking place on the lower level. Two additional basketball courts could be placed on top of the indoor soccer fields when needed, according to Taillon.

There will also be a community room that can be used to host different city events.

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Ed has been with The Times since January 2014. He previously covered government affairs for Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers in Florida. Prior to Scripps, he was with the Chicago Regional Bureau of Copley News Service.