Peoria City Council says 'play ball' to complex developers

By Audrey Wise

Peoria City Council says 'play ball' to complex developers

February 12, 2014 Updated Feb 12, 2014 at 12:01 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- Developers for a proposed sports complex in Peoria score a homerun.

The Peoria City Council has approved the $34 million complex project that will include 10 youth baseball/softball fields and a 125,000 square foot dome for year-round indoor play.

The complex will sit on about 50 acres along Orange Prairie Road in North Peoria near the Shoppes at Grand Prairie. It's just slightly north of the Apartments at Grand Prairie.

The council gave the green light Tuesday night, but not before hearing from concerned neighbors.

The meeting started with a public hearing allowing residents a final chance to voice their opinions.

Several neighbors spoke up, they were generally not opposed to the development, they just didn't want it in their backyard.

"The hours of operations we're looking at, it won't be transparent, it won't just blend into the fabric of the neighborhood, in my opinion it will be a disruption," said one neighbor.

Another said, "I disagree with the location because the location is in the midst of a residential area and a lot of the aspects of the sports facility are not conducive to a residential area."

The Council did vote 10-1 on the required land use and zoning issues to make the project move forward.

As a whole, they were supportive and excited for what this means for the city.

"I don't think we have anything to be ashamed of, quite frankly if this meeting was being held in another community in this area after everyone of these votes there would have been applause instead of people feeling guilty for voting yes," said Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis.

The lone no vote was councilwoman Beth Akeson.

"You are not being a champion of a neighborhood by putting this in. You're a champion of development. You're a champion of bringing business to the city, which is all great, but let's put it some place where it's not going to have a negative impact," Akeson said.

Developers expect to break ground late this spring. They expect to open the dome sometime in November or December of this year with the whole complex opening in spring of 2015.