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Ottumwa Sportsplex open house gives the community a look at the future building

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 8:55 PM CST
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OTTUMWA, Iowa (KYOU) - An indoor sports facility is coming to Ottumwa. Is, not might, according to T.J. Heller, who’s heading the project. He’s the chair of the Southeast Iowa Sports Commission, a nonprofit organization. “It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when,” Heller said at the meeting.

It’s taken over three years to get to this point, but Heller says the end is in sight. The complex would go in Sycamore Park, right next to Beach Ottumwa. With enough space inside for three basketball courts, four volleyball courts, a 9v9 turf soccer field, and a host of other amenities.

There would be a membership fee, but Heller says it would be low. Besides, that’s not his main goal for the complex.

“The primary purpose of this is to hold tournaments on a weekly basis, every weekend. As many as we can: from volleyball to baseball to softball to basketball. People have to stay the night, people have to eat food, they have to fuel up here, so there’s a lot of incremental value and not only are you building a sports complex for our citizens, but we’re also helping our local economy as well with these tournaments.”

Heller points to the recent Babe Ruth world series, which brought $2.6 million to the city. He says that kind of money could be possible with consistent tournaments.

But the complex doesn’t come cheap, totaling $9 million. About 80% of that is for building the actual, physical complex. The rest for funds like operations and maintenance.

The Southeast Iowa Sports Commission has been receiving donations from various community groups: JBS, Ottumwa Legacy Foundation, or the Ottumwa School Board.

That leaves $2.5 million left to raise. Heller hopes it will come from community donations. “We’re going to look for this public for support to help finalize this financing gap, and then we’re able to put this on the ground.”

Once the funding comes in, Heller says it should take around six months to build the sports complex.

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