Provo regional sports park projected to boost athletic participation, economy

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A new Provo regional sports park is coming in 2024. The park will have 21 different soccer fields and 45 new pickleball courts for both regional and national tournaments. (Photo courtesy of Provo City)

Construction of the 100-acre Provo regional sports park is underway as plans for the park expand with an updated design that includes 45 new pickleball courts.

The new pickleball courts will be built through a partnership between the Provo Parks and Recreation team and the Provo Foundation, a fundraising arm of Provo City, according to Scott Henderson, the Provo Parks and Recreation director.

“We are in the middle of that partnership right now and feel optimistic about the enthusiasm of this citizen group of volunteers that are going to try and work hard to get this accomplished,” Henderson said.

The rise of pickleball participation across the nation, but specifically in Utah, helped develop this partnership between Provo Parks and Recreation and the Provo Foundation, according to Henderson.

“With Provo being a college community, I think whatever number of courts are made the student population will go to those courts,” said Spencer Kimball, BYU Pickleball Club president.

In addition to the new pickleball courts, the park will include 21 flat fields that will host regional and national tournaments for soccer, football, ruby, lacrosse and ultimate frisbee.

“The idea that Provo could be a host for the main season of spring, summer and fall for soccer, lacrosse, football, ultimate or any flat field sport is that we could make a next-level splash by adding these additional fields, and it would take care of our locals and attract visitors to Provo,” Henderson said.

According to Henderson, the initial reason for the creation of the park was a need for fields locally.

“We have approximately 330 teams playing on 11 fields in Provo right now,” Henderson said.

With such limited field space across Provo, many children and adults are being denied access to the athletics programs because the capacity is full.

“Currently we have over 3,000 kids participating in our recreation league soccer programs. We are turning away kids because the programs are full. This will open it up so that more youth can participate,” said Doug Robins, assistant director of Provo Parks and Recreation.

Having a space big enough to host regional and national tournaments was another important aspect of the new park, according to Henderson.

“Getting 20-plus fields in one location seems to be a major selection factor for tournaments and their selection of venues,” Henderson said.

Scott Henderson talks about how the upcoming Provo regional sports park was bought. The upcoming park will have over 21 different soccer fields and plans to host both national and regional tournaments. (Ethan Porter)

Finding a plot of land big enough for the new park was initially difficult because Provo is largely a built-out community with very little room for buildable housing or development, Henderson said.

“The Lakeview Parkway, the road on the west side of Provo going to the airport, opened up a lot of opportunities for the west side,” Henderson said.

The synergy with the Provo Airport on the west side of the park will mutually benefit both the airport and the park as visitors come for the national and regional tournaments held at the park increasing attendance at the park and airport.

“All the visitors will arrive and they will have the airport be adjacent to the regional sports park. It just adds to the convenience factor,” Henderson said.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the local economy hard as it impacted the retail, restaurant, travel and hospitality industries. According to Henderson, the new park will be a major economic driver for Provo as it brings in more visitors with its regional and national tournaments.

“The impact between the soccer fields and also with the fundraising effort being done for the 45-court pickleball complex could be 40 million dollars in local spending,” Henderson said.

The influx of visitors will help fill out hotel rooms, increase restaurant participation and increase spending across Provo.

The new park will also impact the local community with playgrounds built in each quadrant of the regional sports park as well as walking paths and fields used for recreational purposes, according to Henderson.

“It’s through a combination of local benefits that we will have a venue that keeps people active and participating, and the other aspect is the vibrancy that the park will add to Provo,” Henderson said.

The Provo Parks and Recreation team plans to place turf in the spring of 2024, with the anticipation to open in the fall of 2024.

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