MCCRACKEN COUNTY, KY — COVID-19 isn’t stopping McCracken County’s plans to build an outdoor sports complex. The Sports Tourism Commission met Wednesday to discuss a wetlands study for the old Bluegrass Downs site, where the complex is set to be built. McCracken County Sports Tourism Commission Chair Jim Dudley says this study is a key part in moving toward the design of the complex.
“We want to make sure that we’re not disrupting the land, we’re not disrupting that flow of the water, and stuff like that. That’s what that team will do is go in and make sure that whatever we decide to put in there doesn’t effect those type of things,” Dudley said.
While the commission is focusing on getting the outdoor facility underway, the Paducah Expo Center continues to hold indoor sports tournaments. This week a basketball tournament, similar to the NBA’s bubble from the summer, brought in teams from across the country.
“You can definitely see where that works. It keeps people safe, you don’t have the coronavirus being spread or anything like that, and more infections,” Dudley said. “At that same time you’re still kind of getting to have a season.”
Dudley added that hosting tournaments at the expo center has been a focus of the county.
“That was what we envisioned when we put those courts in there was kind of bringing in tournaments like that that bring more people to Paducah, allow us to increase tourism,” Dudley said. “They’re spending money at the hotels, and they’re probably buying food from the restaurants and having that catered down there. That’s an economic impact, especially right now when restaurants can’t be open.”
He hopes to break ground on the outdoor sports complex sometime next year, and continue to host more indoor tournaments to the expo center. Despite the pandemic, Dudley says the county has brought in $800,000 through the transient room tax. The McCracken County Sports Tourism Commission is funded entirely by that tax, meaning it does not cost tax payers any money.