The chairman of the Lawton Youth Sports Trust Authority hopes to have word by October about plans to use school trust land for an indoor youth sports complex.
City of Lawton officials have been working toward that indoor complex for several years, after making the project one of the cornerstones in the 2019 Capital Improvements Program. That CIP has allocated up to $8 million toward the project that would build an indoor complex offering indoor turf fields and basketball courts that could be turned to use for sports such as volleyball. The project has come under the banner of the sports trust authority, an entity created by the City Council to assume control of youth sports that had been directed by the Parks and Recreation Department.
Trust Authority Chairman Brian Henry said it is important to identify a site for that complex because it would allow conceptual design plans to be created. That, in turn, is important because those design plans will help the trust authority and Eastern Sports Management in their quest to apply for grants to help fund what has been projected to be a $31 million project.
Earlier this year, Henry and members of the sports trust authority said they had narrowed their potential site to two tracts: 60 acres near the Grandview Sports Complex in west Lawton and 80 acres of Kiowa Comanche Apache trust land at Cache Road and Fort Sill Boulevard.
Henry said Thursday that Lawton is waiting for action from the Commissioners of the Land Office, which controls the land near Grandview. The land office is looking at a draft proposal to lease the land.
“It went to their legal department,” Henry said, of the review of the documentation that is necessary before Lawton can begin its own process: appraisal of the 60-acre tract to determine its value; Lawton’s lease payment will be based on the land’s value.
Henry said acquisition of that land is important because it goes “hand in hand” with designs: you can’t design the facility until you know where it will be built. Henry said the school land site is an attractive option because it is adjacent to Grandview, a sports complex with eight outdoor fields that Lawton Public Schools has begun renovating. Eastern Sports Management and other experts had recommended a site with outdoor sports fields to complement what would be placed inside. Because Lawton Public Schools’ renovation had been narrowed to four of Grandview’s eight fields, there would be four fields available. In addition, those 60 acres are only part of the available land, meaning expansion would be possible, Ward 8 Councilman Randy Warren said in March.
Eastern Sports Management President John Wack said this spring the benefits of the Grandview site include ease of access and the fact multiple points of entry can be added. He also cited proximity to hotels and what he called a “more favorable” acquisition cost for the property. Lawton can’t buy the school land, but the Commissioners of the Land Office will grant a 55-year lease that can be renewed, Henry said.
Trust authority members have not commented on their second option: trust land managed by the Kiowa Comanche Apache Intertribal Land Use Committee. Negotiations have been under way for that tract, tribal land with easy access from Cache Road/Interstate 44 and also a site with expansion potential.