Dayton to get $4.3M athletic fields, pickleball courts, band shell

Once again, the Salvation Army plans to bring new recreation options to the McCook Field neighborhood.

And this time, fans of a funny-sounding and fast-growing sport will get places to play their games.

The Salvation Army wants to construct an outdoor recreation facility at a seven-acre site across from the $40 million Ray & Joan Kroc Community Center, which is located at 1000 N Keowee St.

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The project will create a soccer and lacrosse field, an amphitheater, pickleball and tennis courts and other new spaces.

The Salvation Army got a boost on Tuesday night when the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals approved two variance requests benefiting the project.

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The $4.3 million new recreation facility will be constructed on the former site of McGuffy Elementary School, which was demolished in 2012.

On the western half of the property will be athletic fields for soccer and lacrosse and new bleachers, according to a report by city of Dayton staff.

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The eastern half will contain a band shell, a grassy field for flex uses, six courts for tennis and pickleball and a storage building, the report states. The site will have restrooms, a concession area and a running path that encircles the fields, according to a site plan.

Pickleball is played by two or four players and blends elements of tennis, table tennis and badminton.

The Kroc Center, at Webster and Keowee streets, opened in 2010, bringing new investment and amenities to a struggling, working-class area.

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The center offers a worship center, recreation center, food pantry, movie theater, dance studio, piano lab, outdoor spaces and banquet center. The campus also has an early childhood center, a technology cafe and after-school tutoring for schoolchildren.

The center was paid for with $1.5 billion in funds that Joan Kroc, widow of McDonald’s Corp. founder Ray Kroc, gave to the Salvation Army to help create community centers in under-served neighborhoods.

The Dayton charity received $66 million, to help fund construction of the facility and its long-term operations.

RELATED: Opening of Kroc center called ‘a great day in Dayton’

On Tuesday, the Salvation Army was granted a use variance from the Board of Zoning Appeals, which was needed because recreation facilities are not permitted in that part of the city. The group also obtained a variance to install a 56-foot-high sign tower.

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