After nearly two years of design and debate, Lebanon is moving forward with a sports complex development after city councilors voted to add its design bill to next year’s budget.

The ordinance to add $515,000 for designing the sports complex was approved unanimously Tuesday at town hall. Per the ordinance, the city will employ the services of Barge Design Solutions, an engineering and architectural firm in Nashville.

When Lebanon acquired the property on Stumpy Lane where the complex is to be built, it began exploring its renovation into a practical sports facility. Construction of the sports complex was then tasked to a commission in 2019, with the primary focus concerning the local youth soccer organization, Wilson United, which was suffering from growing pains at its current location.

Presently, the soccer games are played on a patch near Lebanon Municipal Airport. Aside from any concerns about proximity to landing airplanes, its size and capacity was becoming strained. Given trends of population growth in the area, the city recognized a need to explore alternative locations.

During deliberations by the commission, several options were explored that looked quite different from what the city is proposing now. For instance, a partnership with Cumberland University was axed after the conditional changes proved too costly.

The prospect of building several baseball and softball fields was also presented. These plans were set to resemble parks in comparable sized cities around the country, and were largely investigated as revenue generators. These plans were discouraged by costs but also by competition in the area, similar spaces in Smyrna, Clarksville and Murfreesboro.

Ultimately, the price tag for a project of that scope pushed the council the other way. After all, this primary focus was alleviating the current constraints at the soccer field. That’s why, at least for now, the city is just squaring in on soccer.

Tuesday’s reading was just the first by the council that will have to revisit it one more time to officially approve it. The next Lebanon City Council meeting is scheduled for June 15.

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