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Sports complex could make its way into St. Joseph County

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Visit South Bend Mishawaka is hoping to attract a whole lot of visitors. It's setting aside money to build a sporting complex.

The corner of Douglas and Fir in Mishawaka is one of the proposed sites for the facility.

County leaders say it's close to a Toll Road exit and a lot of other amenities.

The hope is a new sports facility could bring a lot of tournaments to the area. Those tournaments could mean big financial gains for the county.

"Just in our club alone, we have 20 teams so you're talking 200 to 220 kids plus we're traveling every weekend to play basketball,” said Rod Creech, Owner of Midwest Basketball Academy.

Creech says all that travel adds up.

"When you go to a tournament on a weekend, you're leaving on a Friday, coming back on a Sunday. So you're two nights in a hotel. Food, travel, gas, the expenses to stay. I mean, if you look at a normal family, you're probably looking at $500 on a weekend,” said Creech.

That's money that Visit South Bend Mishawaka wants to see spent here at home. Executive Director Rob DeCleene envisions an indoor sports complex with around eight basketball courts -- which could host a lot of tournaments.

"Various basketball tournaments, volleyball tournaments, really any indoor sport. Then all of a sudden you're starting to talk about wrestling, you're talking about cheer competitions, dance competitions, badminton, futsal is a kind of new ‘it’ sport these days,” said DeCleene.

By the end of next year there will be around 5,000 available hotel rooms in the county. DeCleene wants to fill them.

"We're trying to look at using these funds that have been accumulated through visitors coming to the area to put back in place to identify ways to bring more visitors to the area,” he said.

DeCleene says his office was inspired by the opening of Compton Family Ice Arena, which has hosted quite a few hockey tournaments.

"What that has done for us is proven that if you have the right facilities, we've got the right location, we can attract some significant events to the area,” he said.

DeCleene says the complex would be paid for by the hotel tax fund. He says his office is setting aside about $1.5 million.

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