HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Henrico's newest sports complex park is now open to the public. Greenwood Park in Glen Allen is about 200 acres of space that the county is transforming into an athletic destination.
Greenwood Park debuts this weekend with a national soccer tournament called the Ultimate Cup.
Right now, phase one is complete - 10 acres of fields for soccer and lacrosse and sand volleyball courts. The cost was $11 million, but there are 200 acres to build on. County leaders say this project is addressing a need.
"We don't have enough fields," says Neil Luther, director of Henrico Parks and Recreation. "In particular, adding these all-weather fields with the synthetic product basically opens up some much needed capacity that we've been missing for many years."
Sports tourism - particularly youth teams - brought in $47 million in annual spending in Henrico last year, according to officials. Greenwood Park plays a role in that revenue stream.
"You're going to see more of these types of fields," says Luther.
Luther says future plans even include a stadium that could host NCAA-level or VHSL-level tournaments. By the spring or summer, work will begin for a playground and 10K trail.
"It would basically be a trail that would wander along, back down and along the flood plain of the Chickahominy River, which is basically back there," he said.
There are no other public fields in the county made up of this material. The infill is an organic mulch - much like dirt, but better.
"It's all about player safety, is what it comes down to," says Luther.
He says it won't overheat like other synthetic materials, and there is a cushioning that prevents head-to-turf concussion injuries.
"This product here will basically hold a concussion rating much better than a grass field, and certainly safety fields," he said.
The next phases of the park will be paid for through a bond referendum approved by voters two years ago. It will take years to complete the park.
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