Playground built as Sportsplex opening nears

MATTHEWS – Volunteers were out in full force Wednesday, Sept. 11, to honor lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001, with a memorial playground build at the site of the new Sportsplex in Matthews.

(Above) A volunteer works on the Sportsplex playground on Sept. 11.

(Above) A volunteer works on the Sportsplex playground on Sept. 11.

The playground – one of a number the county has built in tribute to Patriot Day – will be a key piece of the sports complex when it opens next month. Designed with preschool through elementary-aged children in mind, the playground will sit at the corner of two sets of sports fields and give parents a good place to keep an eye on their youngest children during events and games.

“When one kid plays, the whole family comes,” said Hazen Blodgett, Matthews town manager, who added the playground will provide a safe environment for parents to keep their children busy while watching their older children compete on the fields.

The playground equipment was expected to be in place by the end of work on Wednesday, followed by additional work on the site that will include securing the pieces in place and laying down the Fibar mulch for the playground floor.

While Matthews has playgrounds at a number of its parks, this one will offer a little bit more for residents and their families.

“This one has a little bit more of a unique play element,” said Annette Privette Keller, Matthews spokesperson, who pointed specifically to a set of play drums being screwed together Wednesday morning kids will be able to beat on as they run around the playground.

Matthews will begin installing a monument near the entrance of the Sportsplex, possibly as early as next week, with an opening ceremony planned for Oct. 30, a Wednesday. It’s likely the Sportsplex will open earlier than that, though, and a tournament is already scheduled for the fields. That will mark the end of the first phase of the project, after which crews will start on the second phase that includes additional synthetic fields and a single-field stadium that could be used to host big tournament or playoff games.

Currently, the only entrance to the Sportsplex is located on Tank Town Road. The county eventually will see an additional entrance, on N.C. 51, once land is developed in the area.

Once completed, the Sportsplex will have 12 multi-use fields for sports including soccer, football, lacrosse and rugby. Matthews will contribute $2 million to the project, which is expected to cost between $32 million to $34

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