Dayton wants to see some big changes at Kettering Field and the city might be willing to spend $15 million or more to make it into a “premier” sports complex.
“We want to offer an amenity that the community can be proud of and that provides the opportunity for a vast variety of fun, physical activities, programs and events that appeal to the Dayton community as a whole,” said Robin Williams, the director of Dayton’s recreation department.
Kettering Field, located at 444 N. Bend Boulevard in the McCook Field area, consists of about 90 acres of land, including property the city purchased a few years ago from Greater Dayton Premier Management.
The property is bordered by North Bend Boulevard to the west, North Keowee Street to the east, Interstate 75 to the south and East Helena Street to the north.
Kettering Field currently has seven softball diamonds, four baseball diamonds, four “fast-pitch” diamonds and a regulation-sized artificial turf football field that was donated by the NFL, city officials said.
Most fields have lighting and fencing and the property also has limited seating and a concessions building. There are multiple basketball courts, but they are not usable since they are overgrown with vegetation and do not have rims or nets.
But the city wants to find a company to help design a multi-use sports complex that would add a bunch of new amenities to the property.
New amenities could include new playgrounds, basketball and sand volleyball courts, a soccer field, walking paths, LED lighting, shaded structures and shaded seating, bleachers and an adult fitness playground.
The city also is interested in installing synthetic turf infields for the baseball and softball diamonds, which currently have grass cover. New fencing and a basketball field house also could be added.
Williams said initial price estimates from several years ago suggested these improvements could cost around $15 million.
The city plans to debt-finance the project and originally estimated it could take about six years to complete the upgrades.
But Williams said supply costs have increased and shipping delays means the project timeline could change.
Jerry Bowling III, president of the McCook Field Neighborhood Association, said upgrading Kettering Field could make it more of a destination that would attract larger crowds and benefit local businesses, including those along North Keowee Street.
An improved Kettering Field would help achieve some of the goals of the Dayton riverfront master plan, which calls for new amenities, investments and changes along the riverbanks, including turning North Bend Boulevard into a pedestrian promenade, Bowling said.
The riverfront plan envisions Kettering Field as Dayton’s “premier” active recreation park, featuring baseball, softball, lacrosse, soccer, skateboarding, “adventure play” and running/walking loops.
McCook Field was formerly an airfield that was a big part of aviation history, and it would be nice to see something at the Kettering Field honoring that legacy, Bowling said.
Dayton Sportcial, which organizes adult sports leagues and tournaments, has hosted kickball leagues at Kettering Field since 2015.
PJ Falter, co-founder of Sportcial, said adding turf fields could help with playing conditions during the rainy seasons.
“Kettering Field has been one of our favorite venues for hosting kickball leagues as the fields we play on are well maintained and easily accessible,” he said.
Sportcial ran three eight-week kickball sessions in 2016, starting in April.
But a couple of years later the organization decided to scale back to two sessions that began in May because there were so many rainouts.
“So we believe adding turf fields would allow the facility to be utilized for more months throughout the year,” Falter said.
Sportcial would be interested in adding a new summer volleyball league if new courts were built at the site.
“We believe adding amenities such as basketball and volleyball courts, soccer fields, turf fields and walking paths would be very beneficial to the facility and increase its popularity,” said Raph Carranza, Sportcial co-founder.
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