Erie, Pa. — G.R.E.A.T.T. (Greater Regional Erie Athletic Team Training Inc.), a non-profit organization, and ERIEBANK today announced that G.R.E.A.T.T. has completed the purchase of the former Family First Sports Park and will soon begin a $9.1 million renovation of the facility. The new athletic complex will be named ERIEBANK Sports Park.
With construction scheduled to begin in mid-January, the new ERIEBANK Sports Park will include a double-pad ice arena, eight natural and artificial soccer/lacrosse/football fields, a four-season indoor turfed dome training facility, a four-court professional basketball and volleyball gymnasium, and a four-diamond baseball park with artificial infields. The facility will serve local youth and is expected to draw sports tourism through local-, state- and national-level tournaments and events.
ERIEBANK is supporting the park through financing as well as donations of funds and expertise to move the project forward, committing to a strategic partnership to strengthen the park’s success for years to come.
Dave Zimmer, president of ERIEBANK, stated, “We see ERIEBANK’s role as a catalyst for community development. Our priority is to strengthen Erie in ways that make it a better place to live, work and do business, and to do so by investing in companies, individuals, and important community initiatives such as this outstanding new sports park.”
Zimmer added, “We are proud to partner with GREATT to create a space in which youth can develop their abilities and realize their potential. ERIEBANK Sports Park will be a place where kids learn how to be part of team and discover all that is possible when people work together toward a shared goal. That aspect alone will pay dividends for Erie for years to come.”
“Working in partnership with many organizations and community leaders, G.R.E.A.T.T. is about to realize our vision of a state-of-the-art multi-sport complex that creates opportunities for Erie youth and serves as an engine for economic development in the region,” said Bob Catalde, president of the G.R.E.A.T.T. Board of Directors. “We are very excited to begin construction next month on a complete revitalization of this facility, both inside and out.”
Renovations of the park will take place in two phases, with the first phase expected to occur between January and August 2018. It will include:
- Construction of two NHL regulation-size ice rinks to replace the current indoor soccer fields
- Construction of eight full-size ice rink locker rooms, including rooms specifically for women and referees
- Resurfacing of basketball courts
- Interior renovations of the dome, including relocation of the current indoor turf fields
- Renovation of existing outdoor grass fields
- Parking lot improvements
Phase Two will involve replacing existing outdoor fields with turf and construction of a four-diamond baseball park. The park will be operated by Rink Management Services, the largest operator of ice skating facilities in the United States.
In addition to support from ERIEBANK, G.R.E.A.T.T. has received a $3 million grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and a $500,000 grant from the Summit Township Industrial and Economic Development Authority. In addition, Erie County Council recently approved loans of up to $6.2 million to the organization through the Erie County Community Financing Authority.
A 2015 study by Tripp Umbach, a nationally-recognized economic development research firm based in Pittsburgh, found that construction and operation of an expanded sports park will have a significant positive impact on the region’s economy.