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The Central Nebraska Sports Complex - an invaluable partner for Central Nebraska Economic Development By Krae Dutoit

As published in the Grand Island Independent on 10/20/21.

It was at a basketball tournament in Kansas City a while ago that I had an epiphany. I became extremely aware of the money my family just spent to get our son into the tournament, and to the tournament. Then I started thinking about all the money that I have spent NOT in Central Nebraska to foster my son’s love of basketball. Gas, food, hotels, tournament fees: it started to add up in my mind. Then part two of the epiphany hit me: if we had a major sports complex in Central Nebraska, I would spend my money at home, where it does good for MY community.

The action taken from that thought produced a Nebraska nonprofit corporation with the mission to build and operate a major sports training complex, in Central Nebraska, for the benefit of underserved and underrepresented youth athletes in Central Nebraska. It would serve those who don’t have a chance to compete and show how great an athlete they are.

The board of directors of the Central Nebraska Sports Complex are all community leaders who either have youth athletes in the family, or are directly involved in local youth sports. Many had the same realization I had that day: ‘we can do this in Central Nebraska and keep our money here.’ We came together (safely) during the pandemic to get our ideas on paper and to figure out the way forward. That way forward was a sports training complex to do several things in Central Nebraska: 1. improve the ability of our community’s youth athletes; 2. serve youth athletes that cannot afford to participate on elite teams; and 3. bring youth athletes and their families from other areas to Central Nebraska to spend their money HERE, boosting our economy.

(That way forward was immediately jump-started by the Bosselman family’s donation of land for the sports complex. Thank you, by the way.)

The economic boost of this sports training complex cannot be understated. The youth sports industry in the U.S. is a $19.2B industry. The average U.S. family with a youth athlete spends $426.78 annually on basketball, and $595.49 on volleyball, on team fees alone. Add equipment, training time, and travel costs, and that number rapidly grows. Estimates range between $2,100 to $9,400 per year, per athlete.

Hosting multiple elite youth tournaments in Central Nebraska brings youth athletes and their families here. They will need food, lodging, access to retail shops, and entertainment. The sports complex will grow our local economy, giving our local businesses the opportunity to expand, meet new markets, and, sorry, pay more taxes to support our community.

I am very happy about the choice we made to get this community project going, and about all the partners who have so far come forward to help. There is no better place in Nebraska for this effort to have a bigger impact, for all of us. I look forward to continuing to work with all our great partners well into the future.

The Central Nebraska Sports Complex Fund’s web page is hosted on the Greater Grand Island Community Foundation’s website.

You can also navigate to the CNSC’s website and learn all about the benefits the complex will have for the Central Nebraska region: gocnsc.org. I hope you take a moment and invest in our community today.