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Naples Daily News (Florida)


A planned $70 million sports complex northeast of Collier Boulevard and Interstate 75 is one step closer to reality after Collier County commissioners approved a $4.8 million design contract Tuesday.

Commissioners also agreed to move forward with county staff's recommendations of having 16 multipurpose fields, including four to accommodate both baseball and softball players.

Although the complex initially was envisioned as having eight multipurpose fields and eight baseball or softball diamonds, county staff recommended a pivot to the current model to attract larger tournaments, including soccer, to Collier and largely cede baseball to Lee County.

"The magic number seemed to be 12 to 16 (multipurpose fields)," said Nick Casalanguida, Collier's deputy county manager overseeing the project.

By having 16 multipurpose fields the county hopes to attract professional European and South American soccer clubs to hold clinics and exhibition games at the sports complex.

"It'll always be an amateur complex, but in a perfect world, we'd love to have Barcelona juniors team come here and play like an under-21 game here against another team," Casalanguida said. "Just to really draw attention. And this sort of complex will be the perfect size for it."

The project will now move into its "hard design" phase over the summer, he said. The hope is to open the first fields by the end of 2019 and open the whole complex in 2021.

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June 13, 2018


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