December 2, 2021

Sports complex grant decision coming

Image provided by Keystone Associates

An artist’s rendering of the original proposed sports complex for the village of Homer. File photo from June 2018.

The village of Homer expects to find out Tuesday if it will receive a $16 million state grant for its proposed $30 million sports complex and park expansion project.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will make an announcement then on grant awards and Mayor Darren “Hal” McCabe said everything he has heard so far about the application for the project has been positive.

“My gut tells me we might get a little bit with a lot of encouragement to go back next year for the rest,” he said.

The proposal includes a dome for indoor sports, a hockey rink, pavilion, Little League field, a football field, a soccer and lacrosse field, boat launches on the Tioughnioga River, a 2-mile walking trail along the river and a dog park at Calale Field off Route 281.

The primary site where the dome and sports fields would be located is the privately owned 70-acre former Casey field and the adjacent former Contento scrap yard owned by the Cortland County Industrial Development Agency — both in Cortlandville. The village would buy the Casey Field site for $375,000 and lease the former Contento property.

Along with the grant, if it is awarded, McCabe has said the village would get about $9 million to $12 million from private investors.

The village would still need to bond about $2 million for the project, but McCabe said the village would pay off the bond in three to four years using revenue collected from the sports complex.

McCabe said the village has estimated it would make enough revenue to pay off the bonds, and pay off its investors in seven years. However, that would be with the project fully complete.

The village submitted applications to five state agencies for five different components of the project. McCabe said the village will bond only once its knows whether the full dome aspect of the project — the revenue-generating feature — will happen.

A feasibility and marketing study are also planned for the project.

The grants the village is awarded will determine how it moves forward. But its first priority would be to secure the property, McCabe said.

He said a few of the agencies the village applied to for the funding said its application “ticked all the right boxes.”

“I’m optimistic, cautiously optimistic,” said Village Board Member Ed Finkbeiner, who will go with McCabe on Tuesday to Albany for the announcement.

Sports tourism is the fastest growing tourism market in the United States, former Executive Director of the Cortland County Convention and Visitors Bureau Jim Dempsey said earlier this year. It is a $6 billion tourism industry, growing 20 percent annually.