Delaware Sports Facilities Score Major Funding Boost: An Investment in Sports Tourism and Local Economy

Athlete on indoor trackPhoto by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

DOVER, DE — In an ambitious move set to bolster the state’s sports tourism and stimulate local economy, the Delaware Tourism Office has recently announced financial support awards to four sports facilities in the state. These awards come under the Sports Tourism Capital Investment Fund, a mechanism created through the Fiscal Year 2024 Bond and Capital Improvements Act, structured to provide financial assistance to sports facilities that engage in yearly events aimed at attracting out-of-state visitors.

The application period for this fund commenced on March 1 and concluded on April 12, 2024, during which 18 applications poured in, requesting a total of more than $54 million. The fund had $11.3 million available for distribution.

The reviewing process was conducted by a panel comprising co-chairs of the Joint Capital Improvement Committee, Sen. Jack Walsh and Rep. Debra Heffernan, along with representatives from the Delaware Tourism Office, the Greater Wilmington Convention and Visitors Bureau, Kent County Tourism, and Southern Delaware Tourism. The panel commenced their reviews on May 6 and finalized their funding decision on June 10 in a meeting held in Dover.

Sen. Walsh acknowledged the competitiveness of the application process, praising the diligent panel for their efforts. He emphasized that the facilities receiving funding play a crucial role in inviting out-of-state visitors to sports events in Delaware, fostering economic growth, and showcasing the state to new audiences.

Rep. Heffernan echoed Sen. Walsh’s sentiment, stating that the creation of this fund reflects an attempt to ensure that Delaware remains an appealing choice for sports event organizers. By providing financial support, these facilities can continue to host premier sporting events year-round, bolstering the sports tourism industry.

Jessica Welch, director of the Delaware Tourism Office, underscored the significance of sports tourism, stating it as a key economic driver in Delaware. “We are pleased to be able to support these facilities in their expansion efforts. This funding will go a long way in ensuring that our state can offer top-notch facilities to teams and event operators for years to come,” said Welch.

The recipients of the Sports Tourism Capital Investment Fund are as follows:

  • Indoor Track Delaware ($6 million) is projected to erect an indoor track facility serving as a multi-sport complex and hosting various events and competitions, located next to the Chase Fieldhouse in Wilmington.
  • DE Turf ($3 million) plans to upgrade their complex in Frederica to host larger regional and national tournaments, which include expanding the current stadium seating from 1,000 to 3,000 seats, constructing a new tournament facility, adding extra amenities, and more.
  • Midway Motion & Fitness ($2 million) aims to create a pickleball complex in Rehoboth Beach with 12 indoor courts and 4 outdoor courts, meeting the American Pickleball Association’s tournament sanctioning requirements.
  • STATS Tournaments ($300,000) will install stadium lights at two fields and build an additional baseball and softball field at their facility in Bear, in order to accommodate growing team and tournament needs.

Bill Strickland, chair of the DE Turf board of directors, has expressed joy for receiving this funding, which will facilitate the expansion of their facility. “Since the complex was built in 2017, it has become a first-class destination that attracts sports tourism events to Kent County on a year-round basis,” said Strickland. “This funding will allow our organization to increase the number of events held at the facility, provide an opportunity to host a larger variety of events, and increase the overall economic impact DE Turf has on the state.”

The proposed FY25 Bond and Capital and Improvements Act by the Governor includes additional funding for the Sports Tourism Capital Investment Fund. The Delaware Tourism Office intends to start accepting applications for the next round of funding if this is approved by the legislature. More information on this fund, including application materials and eligibility, can be found on the Visit Delaware website.

The Delaware Tourism Office, a division of the Delaware Division of Small Business, is dedicated to driving tourism and economic advancement in Delaware.

For the latest news on everything happening in Chester County and the surrounding area, be sure to follow MyChesCo on Google News and Microsoft Start.