Youth sports supporters are looking at an east Lawton site for a new indoor youth sports complex.
Members of the Lawton Youth Sports Trust Authority directed Chairman Brian Henry Thursday to negotiate with the owners of an 86-acre tract at Southeast 45th Street and East Gore Boulevard, to buy the land so plans for that indoor sports complex can continue. It’s the third site the trust authority has focused on in the last year, and Henry said while this vacant tract is privately owned, it has multiple advantages.
He said a five-lane arterial (East Gore Boulevard) is adjacent to the tract, which also has another major street (Southeast 45th) on its eastern border, ensuring easy access. Water, sewer and electricity infrastructure already is available. The tract is larger than what is needed for the initial phase, meaning there is the potential for expansion in future years, and there is plenty of room for parking. Its most valuable asset: the land is directly south of MacArthur High School and Eastside Park. Both have outdoor athletic fields, providing what Eastern Sports Management has repeatedly counseled is an important issue for the indoor complex: adjacent or nearby athletic fields to provide an outdoor venue to complement indoor courts.
MacArthur High and MacArthur Middle schools have fields for their student athletes and there are four sports fields at Eastside Park, including two already upgraded under a contract let by Lawton Youth Sports Trust Authority in 2023. Under an agreement with the City of Lawton, the trust authority and its sports management company (Eastern Sports Management) has assumed responsibility of youth sports from the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, as well as the facilities associated with those sports.
Henry said the nearby amenities make the tract at the southwest corner of the East Gore Boulevard/Southeast 45th Street intersection an attractive investment.
“I’m very optimistic,” he said of negotiations he expects to take place over the next few weeks, with a final sale document brought back to the sports authority for approval.
While negotiations with the property owners — the Frank L. Richards Trust and Don and Richard Cooper — is being conducted, the trust authority also can review plans to move forward with designs for that is envisioned as a two-story indoor sports venue offering indoor turf fields and basketball courts that could be turned to use for sports such as volleyball, as well as amenities such as concession stands. Trust authority members have said identifying a site is important so conceptual designs can be created.
Henry said the changes mean the budget is designating up to $1.4 million for designs and land purchase, adding the goal is to purchase the land, then identify a design firm.
“My hope is to move quickly with the contract,” he said, which would allow the trust authority to release Requests For Proposals to identify a design firm.
Eastern Sports Management said earlier this year that conceptual designs would help them solicit grants to help fund what has been projected as a $31 million project. Lawton’s 2019 Capital Improvements Program has designated up to $8 million for construction of the facility.
After Eastern Sports Management evaluated 10 sites across Lawton, discussions in the past year focused on two sites: 60 acres of school trust land adjacent to the Grandview Sports Complex on Southwest 52nd Street, adjacent to Eisenhower High School; and 80 acres of KCA land on Cache Road, east of Fort Sill Boulevard. Action had stalled on both sites, trust authority members indicated late last year.