WARRICK COUNTY, Ind. — A new indoor sports complex in Warrick County would complement Southwest Indiana’s existing facilities and take local sports tourism to a higher level, economic development officials say.
The project is proposed by Carmel-based construction and development company Lauth and Synergy Sports Global and would cover 180,000 square feet and include a variety of indoor court space, turf fields and a banked indoor track.
It’s imagined as a site for amateur and youth volleyball, basketball, track, archery, cheer and dance events, among many other things.
The site would be near the Warrick Wellness Trail and the large medical facilities at Interstate 69 and Indiana 66. Officials cited discussions with private property owners in that area to purchase land.
Developers plan to seek private and public funding sources.
“We are super excited about it,” said Steve Roelle, executive director of Success Warrick County. “It’s still in the very early planning phases.”
Roelle said it’s too soon to discuss a timeline for the project, but he’s highly optimistic it will get off the ground.
He said there’s an unmet need for a facility that can host indoor sporting tournaments, and it’s common for local families involved in such sports to travel to Indianapolis and Louisville.
The complex would become part of a regional network of sports facilities that includes Deaconess Sports Park — the softball and baseball complex on Green River Road in Evansville — and the Deaconess Aquatic Center under construction in Evansville’s Garvin Park. The pool is expected to open this summer.
A centerpiece of the facility would be its 200-meter indoor track. Roelle said no area university or school has such a track fit for competition. The complex could also be used for baseball or softball practice in cold weather months.
Besides its sports purpose, Roelle said the indoor space would be flexible enough to host graduations, fairs and conventions.
He noted the Warrick Wellness Trail is near major highways as well as hotels, restaurants, stores and medical facilities.
“We are trying to make a tourism impact — heads in beds, people coming to our community,” Roelle said. “Complement is the right word. It’s not going to compete. It’s going to expand what we already have in the region.”
The development team interested in the project has built similar facilities elsewhere, said Greg Wathen, co-CEO of the Evansville Regional Economic Partnership.
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Wathen views the project as a regional “game-changer” that will build on the area’s existing sports amenities.
Wathen shared Roelle’s optimism that the development plan will fly.
“From the analysis they have done and from what I’ve seen, you don’t move along this far in the process if the numbers don’t support it,” he said.
Now that the proposed development is public knowledge, what’s the next step?
“We’re completing due diligence on the financials, and we’re having a lot of conversations with stakeholders and key partners,” Roelle said. “It’s figuring out who the final team is going to be … Once that is done, we are really ready to move forward with an active project. The next step is 4-6 weeks away.”
Southwest Indiana has prioritized sports tourism in large and small ways in recent years. It’s paid dividends, the coronavirus pandemic notwithstanding.
The Ford Center, which is now 10 years old, has hosted major college basketball events such as the Ohio Valley Conference men’s and women’s championship and the NCAA Division II national finals, known as the Elite Eight.
Deaconess Sports Park opened in 2015, and its output grew every year until COVID-19 took its toll. In 2019, the complex was credited with $20.7 in economic impact and more than 22,000 hotel room nights.
Deaconess Aquatic Center will host swimming and diving events of all types, including the NCAA Division II swimming and diving national championships in 2026, and Angel Mounds has hosted numerous NCAA Division II cross country championships and events.