A new sports complex could be in the city's future.

A new sports complex could be in the city's future.

On Thursday, council members heard from Bob Bushyhead, president of Land3 Studio, a consultant firm who has been working for the past year to perform a parks assessment study for the city.

Bushyhead said the consultants looked at multiple factors, including peer communities and public input, to determine what Neosho's park system is missing.

"There was pretty consistent feedback that the facilities that you have currently for sports really don't meet the needs, either from a quality standpoint or just the numbers," Bushyhead said.

He presented the city with two similar conceptual drawings, featuring a four-field baseball complex, a four-field softball complex, three or four multi-purpose fields, which could be used for football and soccer, a 300-yard driving range, and a minimum of approximately 500 parking spaces, with the complex located on the west side of the Neosho Municipal Golf Course.

The entrance to the complex would be located on Waldo Hatler Memorial Drive, near the existing entrance to the golf course clubhouse parking lot.

Richard Davidson, Neosho mayor, noted that the complex would be located near the Neosho Transportation Development District, where road improvements, including the extension of Hale McGinty Drive, are proposed.

"With I-49 being just west of this property, and the improvements the TDD is proposing with retail, the tournament concept also gives us the ability, we hope, to be able to drive traffic to Neosho that otherwise wouldn't come here," Davidson said. "That can help tilt the balance on justifying the fast food chain or sit-down restaurants, hotels and economic growth from the tourism standpoint."

Davidson also noted that, not only could the complex allow the city to host tournaments for city sports, or Neosho Little League, but that the fields would also work for the collegiate level.

Tom Workman, councilman, said he remembered a time when the Neosho adult softball league had 45 teams signed up, while this year there are only five.

"It's kind of slacked off in the last couple years but I think the reason that has happened is because there's not a quality place to play adult softball," Workman said.

Troy Royer, city manager, said the adult league currently has to schedule field time around little league, with little league taking precedence.

Council members in attendance at Thursday's work session expressed interest in moving forward with the Land3 study.
Bushyhead said the next step is an economic impact study, at a cost of $3,950.

The needs assessment study totaled $7,350.

"I think we'll be pleasantly surprised with the economic impact," said councilman Steve Hart. "I think this is something that the people of Neosho deserve."

While the sports complex would move the programs away from Morse Park, Royer said taking the ball fields out would allow the city to come up with new ideas for that city park, to allow for activities such as fishing or other rural recreation.

"Very few parks anywhere in the city limits have two miles of freshwater white ribbon stream running through them, so Morse Park is a major asset to this town," Workman said. "But, it's not a major asset to our sports programs, not anymore."