March 17, 2014 - Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry and Parks Director Al Moll in cooperation with the Youth Sports Advisory Committee have received the community assessment and market-potential study for building on Fort Wayne’s reputation as a youth-sports destination. The study provides recommendations for facilities, organizational structure and support, and youth sports marketing and branding, both locally and regionally.
Henry, Moll and the committee will evaluate the findings and release their recommendations in a separate announcement later this year.
“This study affirms that Fort Wayne is truly a destination for youth sports yet offers opportunities for our residents,” Mayor Henry said. “I look forward to reviewing the recommendations more closely with the advisory committee and identifying initiatives that will enhance what we have and create new ways to engage local youth and families from across the Midwest and country.”
Aquarius Sports and Entertainment of Gaithersburg, Md., and Victus Advisors of Park City, Utah, evaluated the existing youth sports community through surveys, focus groups, interviews and a public meeting last year. Additionally they were charged with identifying opportunities to increase Fort Wayne’s market potential.
Highlights of the recommendations are:
*An outdoor multisport field complex with 12 to 18 fields for soccer, lacrosse, rugby and field hockey with synthetic turf, lighting, locker rooms and a championship field with bleacher seating and lighting.
*A new or expanded baseball and softball complex with eight or more fields.
*Leverage existing programs and operational infrastructure to create a regional adaptive-sports hub with the potential for national reach to serve athletes with disabilities.
*A new sports commission with a board of directors and full-time executive director focused on youth sports. The report recommends the yet-to-be-formed commission to enhance local youth sports through attracting regional events and developing new commission-specific events, building Fort Wayne’s reputation for youth sports, and creating a youth sports foundation to serve children from low-income households and adaptive sports participants.
Marketing and branding:
*Position Fort Wayne as the premier regional youth sports destination through the unique combination of facilities, proximity to other Midwestern cities, affordable lodging, family-friendly attractions and the community’s reputation for Hoosier hospitality.
“The Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department is excited about being a partner in growing the Fort Wayne youth sports market. Some of these suggestions fit squarely with Parks’ mission of providing facilities and programs that enhance the local quality of life,” Director Moll said. “Others, such as the potential for a sports commission, are better suited for other organizations. Either way, Parks was pleased to be involved in this study and look at how we can better serve youth through sports.”
Legacy Fort Wayne funds paid for the $115,000 study.