A new group called “Project Fastpitch” announced plans today for a $32 million, 16-field tournament softball complex on the southeast edge of Newton.
The key to the proposed development directly north of Iowa Speedway is a 300,000 square foot enclosed building with four regulation sized softball fields, batting cages, meeting rooms, and a restaurant. Project Fastpitch leader Troy Strawhecker says that building will be the first of its kind in the country, and guarantees games will not be rained out.
“We may shorten the innings, may shorten the amount of time, but that’s kind of the secret sauce that this team put together, is guaranteeing play,” Strawhecker says. “So even if it is just unforeseen conditions — we can get a lot of innings in on just four fields.”
Twelve regulation softball fields will surround the south, east, and west sides of the indoor facility. Strawhecker says those fields will have unique turf that will allow play within minutes of a large rain storm. Project Fastpitch Director Marty Maynes has coached softball for years and traveled to softball tournaments across the country. His inspiration for the project was to prevent long road trips to tournaments that get rained out.
“Our goal is to make this the best experience for the player, the coach, the family. grandpa and grandma. We want people to come back to this facility three or four times a year. In fact, I would hope that players would walk away and say: ‘I really don’t want to play anywhere else, can we play there every weekend?,” Maynes says.
Strawhecker says girl’s fast pitch softball is growing by one-point-eight-percent per year. They plan to host 32 tournaments at this site every year, most on weekends. “When you think about each team having players coaches and families traveling with them — a good number is about 30 people team,” Strawhecker says. “So when you think about those numbers just from the hotel perspective in Newton, Grinnell, the other surrounding communities, on an average weekend their might be somewhere around 3,750 people buying food in your local community in central Iowa, staying in a hotel.”
Project Fastpitch also expects to attract some other development to the site.”You’ll also see some hotels and supporting retail and other sort of things — because we are going to absolutely drive a ton of traffic to central Iowa over the course of the years. Strawhecker estimates the complex could annually generate an additional 150,000 hotel/motel room nights in Central Iowa.
He says Project Fastpitch’s financing should be wrapped up in the next 30 to 45 days. City documents indicate more than $8.5 million of TIF revenue will be given to the developers. Groundbreaking is planned for this fall with construction lasting nine to 12 months depending on the weather.
Maynes says the facility would have 5 to 6 full-time staff and a few part-timers. An event management company would be employed to provide additional staffing as needed.
(By Randy Van, KCOB, Newton)