Sports tourism expands, new turf fields unveiled - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Sports tourism expands, new turf fields unveiled

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CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) -

Sports tourism is taking off right now in Chesterfield, and the county has some brand new turf to prove it. Two new synthetic fields just opened at Stratton Park – near the new Aquatics Center at Ukrop Park off Iron Bridge road.  

Athletes can play on these fields year-round. Since they're synthetic, they require less up-keep. It's just one more way Chesterfield County is trying to expand its sports season and attract more athletes to our region. 

Over the next several weeks, thousands of soccer players will travel to Stratton Park to play in some big name tournaments. 

"We're really seeing some growth in sports tourism in Chesterfield and we want to keep that going," said Parks and Rec Director Mike Golden. "This will allow us to expand the number of teams coming in for existing tournaments and maybe bring in some more." 

Golden says the county sees a $15 to $20 million economic impact from tournaments. He wants these new fields to give people a reason to come back.   

In 2010, rain clouded that goal - canceling several games during the Jefferson Cup - a popular soccer tournament that brings in teams from all around the nation. 

One of the perks about this synthetic turf is athletes can play here rain or shine unlike regular fields where puddles can form.  

"But the main problem is we get a rainy day like the weather forecast for tomorrow, we probably couldn't play," Golden said. "With artificial turf we'll still play tomorrow."

Initially, the new turf costs more, but Golden says it gets twice the play - and the upkeep is minor.  

"We don't have to cut the grass or fertilize anymore," Golden noted.  

With all 160 acres finished and ready for action, Golden has no worries about
Stratton Park - saying it won't hit the same barriers as sports quest when it closed last year due to financial trouble.  

"I think with SportsQuest some of the facilities weren't quite finished up," Golden added.  Customer service was there - we did work with SportsQuest and River City Sportsplex now to do some of those things right."

The $3 million project includes the two synthetic fields, lights, and parking area. This new facility will also allow football, lacrosse, and field hockey teams to play throughout the year.  

The county also plans to build a trail system sometime in the spring. Those will be mainly for walkers and runners.

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