Foley unveils new aspects of Sports Tourism Complex

FOLEY, Ala. (WALA) – Not too long ago, the block that sits northwest of County Road 20 and the Foley Beach Express was full of trees. Now it’s a very different scene.

“Man, we’re moving. Trees are going down, the dirt’s being cleared, they’re leveling stuff off. When I can start looking out where the ball fields are going to be, that right there, that touches home,” Don Staley, director of sports tourism, said.

And Staley is no stranger to the soccer pitch. He was the head soccer coach at the University of Alabama for nearly 15 years.

“People want to come down and see what we’re doing. Just imagine what it’ll be like once we start going vertical,” Staley said.

The complex will host 12 fields for soccer and lacrosse as well as the championship field, all of which will have state-of-the-art drainage, which allows for continued play after a heavy downpour.

And just beyond the space for the fields, officials said South Baldwin Regional Medical Center will have an urgent care and wellness center.

“With all of the youth sports tourism we’re going to have out there, we’ve gotten a lot of interest from an orthopedic group and another group that services a lot of high schools in our region from a training aspect,” Jeff Rouzie, director of economic development, said.

Another newly announced feature of the site will be a tram service that will run just north of Gulf Bowl and connect the sports tourism site to Tanger Outlets.

“What it really does is create a very large entertainment, retail node. When Blue Collar is finished, we’re looking at close to 750,000 to 800,000 square feet of retailer shops. Tanger’s already got 560 or so,” Rouzie said.

“We’re separating ourselves from so many other ‘just sports’ communities. This is more than just a sports complex. This is so much more,” Staley said.

And officials said it’s only a matter of time before the actual building process begins.

“We’ve done what we’re supposed to do and we’re looking forward to ALDOT announcing a letting on that spine road because that will actually set off a chain of events that will start to more construction, both from our part and the Blue Collar’s part,” Rouzie said.

Staley said they expect to have the soccer fields ready by the middle to end of August.

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