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Our View: Abingdon sports complex moves toward completion, bringing town new asset

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It’s encouraging to see that construction work is now in full swing for the new Abingdon sports complex, whose origins date back at least six years.

After forging through controversies that once threatened to scuttle plans for the sports facility and the adjacent commercial development known as The Meadows, the town of Abingdon now says ballfields and other elements of the complex should be ready by next May.

Current plans for the facility near Interstate 81, Exit 17, were outlined in 2015. That proposal called for spending $5.5 million to construct multiple ballfields, field houses and other associated structures.

According to a recent town update, reported in the Bristol Herald Courier, the total costs have now been projected to reach $12.5 million, including a $7.5 million construction project for the ballfields and field houses that is now underway.

Abingdon officials have been talking about the need for a sports facility of this kind since long before 2015, but it was not until Food City donated $2.2 million to the town to buy the property for the complex that the idea began to take shape.

The town has Food City to thank for that significant contribution, and now is looking forward to opening the facility by next Mother’s Day.

Among the features of the complex will be an area with four baseball and softball fields; two full-size soccer fields; two field houses; a milelong perimeter hiking trail; a splash pad for kids, paid for by donations from the Abingdon Rotary Club; a concessions stand, press box and maintenance building; restrooms; and parking lots.

Mayor Derek Webb also said the town hopes to add “a really nice children’s playground” and a mountain-bike park, which would be near where the complex borders the Virginia Creeper Trail.

“You can see the fields starting to take shape,” Webb said. “They’re actually starting to erect the main field house and another field house right down from the center of the baseball diamond.”

There’s also a house on the site that was built in the early 1930s that town officials decided to save rather than raze. There are no plans yet for its use, but town officials said it does need upgrading, and suggested it could be used for a variety of purposes including a commercial business. The town plans to hold onto it, however, they said.

Abingdon officials noted that the entire site — including the commercial development and the adjacent sports complex — are expected to be a significant asset for the town, bringing in visitors and tax dollars.

Besides Food City, The Meadows holds a Holiday Inn Express, Jersey Mike’s, Pal’s Sudden Service, and Century 21 Real Estate office. A Pizza Hut also is coming, Webb said.

Development of the former plantation site — known as Mary’s Meadows —was delayed a bit by preservationists who sought to keep it pristine. The town eventually worked through the opposition, allowing Food City to move ahead with its plans.

With the long-promised sports complex finally coming to fruition, residents of Abingdon will be able to enjoy the additional recreational opportunities it will provide, and should appreciate the city’s perseverance in seeing the project through.

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