U.S. Cellular Community Park continued to provide a strong economic boost to Medford in 2012, as the fields injected $8.8 million into the local economy, according to a city Parks and Recreation Department report.
The report was presented to the Medford City Council on Thursday.
Parks and Recreation Director Brian Sjothun said the sports park in south Medford was busy in 2012, with visitors from out of the area helping to fill softball and soccer fields.
Those visiting players and their families contributed to the local economy by purchasing lodging and food in the Medford area, Sjothun said.
"It took only 41/2; years for us to have a return on our investment," Sjothun said. "That is a quick turnaround on an investment."
The 132-acre park, which was built in 2008, consists of 12 fields built for football, baseball, softball and soccer. The fields attracted 126,000 participants and hosted 45 tournaments and special events. Approximately 589 teams visited Medford from out of the area.
The facility cost $30 million to build and has generated $37 million in local sales stemming from 18,000 games and more than 788,000 spectators since 2008, the department reported.
The economic impact of $8.8 million is pulled only from money spent by visiting clubs and teams, Sjothun said.
"We don't count local leagues," Sjothun said. "This is a measure only of people who traveled here from out of the area."
The department hopes to build three new fields on the remaining acreage this year, to bring the site to its planned 15 fields.
The new fields would cost about $6 million total to complete. Sjothun said options for paying for construction of the fields will be discussed in upcoming budget talks.
One of the new fields would allow for lacrosse play, Sjothun said.
Among the special events planned this year at the sports park is a showing of the World Series trophy won by the San Francisco Giants. The trophy will be made available for pictures on March 26.
The economic impact study was conducted using numbers from surveys given to team and club officials who used the fields for their tournaments last year. The survey questions included approximate amounts each team spent on entry fees, food and beverage, entertainment, retail shopping, transportation and lodging in the Medford area.
U.S. Cellular Community Park is a municipal park owned, managed and maintained by the city of Medford. The city and U.S. Cellular entered a six-year agreement in 2008, with the company paying $650,000 for the naming rights.
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.