GEORGETOWN — The one-year report card is out on Sandhill Fields.
“It has been a tremendous success,” says Georgetown Mayor Bill West.
Since its September 2020 opening, the 56-acre complex off Sand Hill Road has served as a venue for tournaments, local sports teams’ practices and games and several community and special events.
Open to the public, Sandhill Fields features eight regulation Bermuda Grass soccer fields that are fully convertible to accommodate eight regulation lacrosse fields, six regulation pickleball courts, and a 3.5-mile walking trail which is also home to a 3.1-mile regulation cross country course.
Additional amenities include a tot lot, picnic pavilions and restrooms.
Sandhill Fields has hosted three soccer and two lacrosse tournaments and has been used by several local teams and schools as a location for soccer and field hockey practices and games.
“We are pleased with the success of our first year and are looking forward to hosting more events and tournaments in the future,” said Brad Leinbach, Sandhill Fields general manager.
Two tournaments are on the books, and possibly a third for rest of 2021, Mr. Leinbach said.
Tournaments bring teams and spectators from outside the area, which translates to spending. Mr. Leinbach said projected estimates on the economic impact for the area is about $700,000 to $750,000.
“And we had numerous tournaments canceled early in the year, due to the pandemic. We project we lost probably close to another $500,000 due to those cancellations,” M. Leinbach said.
There is a great deal of use by local clubs.
“We have a lot of local clubs and organizations who use it. Our local soccer clubs have a lot of the weekend use here in the fall,” said Mr. Leinbach.
The complex has also been used for numerous community and special events, including the Town of Georgetown Summer Concert Series and drive-in church service, Georgetown Public Library Story Walk, Walking Club, and Summer Reading Series, a Hispanic-American Festival as well as numerous 5K races, and the inaugural Sussex County Cross Country Championships.
“This endeavor with Sandhill Fields and Town of Georgetown and the county has been nothing but a great success,” said Mayor West. “It has also given us an opportunity, when COVID hit, to use the place as a drive-in church service.”
The $6.5 million Sandhill Fields complex project was made possible from donations from community members, foundations, businesses, and a loan from Sussex County Council.
Sussex County’s financial commitment is a 50-year, $1.5 million zero-percent interest loan.
Back in January 2018, county council approved a memorandum of understanding with the SSCF. Council subsequently approved the $1.5 million loan agreement, which was executed in June 2018.
Under the agreement, the SCCF was required to spend the first $1.5 million before it could begin drawing on county loan commitment.
All of the county money has been lent, according to Gina Jennings, Sussex County Finance Director..
SSCF does not begin paying the loan back until 10 years after operations began in September 2020. Additionally, Sussex County has an option to purchase Sandhll Fields for $1 after 10 years of operations.
The Sandhill Fields Business Partners include Atlantic Sands Hotel and Conference Center, Beebe Healthcare, Harry Caswell Plumbing, The Dental Group, Fulton Bank, David G. Horsey & Sons, Megee Motors, McDonalds/The Meoli Companies, Ocean Atlantic Sotheby’s, Pot Nets Communities and Schell Brothers.
There are plans for an additional amenity — an indoor fieldhouse.
“We are in the very early stages,” Mr. Leinbach said. “We don’t have any sort of permits or anything like that. We have a few designs drawn up that we plan to take out for approvals and for consideration of donors.”
For field use, special events, and additional information contact general manager Mr. Leinbach at firstname.lastname@example.org.