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Orange County Register (California)
A slew of playing fields and basketball courts constructed at the Orange County Great Park recently opened to the public, as Irvine continues its development of one of the largest multisport complexes in the country.
The recent addition of synthetic soccer and lacrosse fields, four basketball courts, natural turf that can accommodate four more soccer fields, and parking lots across 48 acres is the second phase in the creation of the 194-acre sports park.
The city-owned Great Park now boasts 24 soccer/lacrosse fields and will eventually feature a mile-long trail from Irvine Boulevard to the championship soccer stadium, 12 baseball and softball fields — slated to open later this year — a second children's play area, a 2.5-mile wildlife corridor, and agricultural fields by the end of 2019.
An 18-hole golf course is expected to be completed by 2020.
"What is emerging throughout the Great Park is what will be the fourth largest multisport complex in the country," said Craig Reem, the city's director of public affairs and communications.
Developer FivePoint will spend about $250 million to build 688 acres of the Great Park, including the sports park, in return for concessions from the city to build 4,600 homes nearby. The facilities are being turned over to the city as they are completed.
In a separate project, Great Park Ice, a $100 million, 27,000-square-foot ice skating rink, will open nearby in the park later this year. The facility will be paid for, maintained and operated by an Anaheim Ducks affiliate.
One recent evening, the South Slammers FC girls soccer team ran drills and played a practice game on one of the new synthetic fields.
The team christened the fields several days before, coach Cory Dilbeck said. The team also practices on the natural-turf fields
in another part of the park, he said, adding that he prefers the synthetic fields during cooler temperatures.
"You never have to worry about the surface on this," he said. "It's always going to be perfect. Those other fields take a beating."
The new fields won the approval of Ella Kehlenbeck, 15, a Mission Viejo resident who plays center back for the Slammers.
"Now that it's turf, it just holds everything better," she said.
In August 2017, the first phase of the complex opened: 25 tennis courts, seven natural turf fields, a 5,000-seat soccer stadium, five sand volleyball courts and a children's play area on 53 acres.
Last month, the park added beach volleyball lessons for all levels to its list of amenities.
Instructor Megan Armstrong with VolleyOC worked with four players one recent Thursday evening on passing and body control.
"We're just teaching the bare basics just to get the technical stuff and then we can start getting involved in actual play," she said.
Several hundred yards away in the new basketball courts, Ayush Nayak, 10, was clad in Golden State Warriors gear from head to toe as he practiced layups and his jump shot from as far as 20 feet out.
Nayak's family recently moved to Chino Hills from Pleasanton and only found the park during an internet search, his father, Debajyoti said.
"He loves basketball, so this is wonderful," the older Nayak said before suggesting the addition of a food court. "If some food court were there, I'm happy to stay morning to evening."
For a list of amenities or to register for classes at the Great Park, go to cityofirvine.org.
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