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Louisville Slugger Sports Complex moving Toward Construction

Louisville Slugger soon will be carving its name on central Illinois.

This week, the Peoria City Council approved construction of the Louisville Slugger Sports Complex on Orange Prairie Road in Peoria, Ill., a state-of-the-art youth sports complex that complex officials believe could attract as many as 250,000 visitors and 11,000 competitive games per year.

The sports complex will be located near Shoppes at Grand Prairie, an open-air shopping center in Peoria. Dan Cunningham, executive director of the complex, said construction equipment will mobilize on the site by Sept. 2, and the complex should be complete and ready for tournaments by Memorial Day 2015.

Louisville Slugger is investing in the $18 million complex alongside Peoria developer Mark Petersen, the owner of Petersen Health Care, which is headquartered in Peoria and manages a number of nursing homes.

Rick Redman, vice president of corporate communications for Louisville Slugger, declined to disclose the amount of the company’s investment in the complex, but he said Louisville Slugger will brand the complex through signs and displays, and a smaller version of the Louisville Slugger Museum will be built at the complex. Visitors will be able to purchase authentic merchandise at a Louisville Slugger store on the site, Redman said.

Likewise, Louisville Slugger will consult on the project, drawing on its experience in baseball and softball, and will leverage its relationships in “diamond sports to assure the success of the facility,“ according to Redman.

Redman said in an email that the complex is \”already drawing a tremendous amount of interest from teams across the country that want to come there and play. It will be the best facility of its kind in the Midwest and among the very best in the nation.\”

Cunningham said the facility will have 10 outdoor baseball and softball fields using synthetic turf, which allows for a quicker turnaround on construction because developers will not have to plant grass. The complex also will be positioned for year-round play because a 125,000-square-foot indoor dome will be constructed with both synthetic turf and rubberized multi-purpose flooring that allows for numerous sports, including soccer and lacrosse, he said.

The complex will be constructed alongside an $18 million hotel and conference center, Cunningham said. \”It will open sometime later in the fall of 2015,\” he said of the hotel.

Developers in Peoria sought out Louisville Slugger as a brand for the complex because of its highly respected status in the sports world, which Cunningham said provides “instant name recognition.”

Anywhere he goes in his travels, “door open for me when I mention Louisville Slugger,” Cunningham said.

Once open, the complex will have an interactive website and mobile application to assist visitors with game schedules, places to eat and shop in Peoria and local maps, according to Peoria Magazine. Louisville Slugger is a division of Hillerich & Bradsby Co. Inc., the locally based sporting goods manufacturer.

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