By Alyssa Schnugg
A special exception to allow a new multi-use sports complex to be built in the Oxford Commons neighborhood was approved Monday by the Oxford Planning Commission.
The special exception was granted to allow recreational use on property zoned Suburban Corridor and Suburban Center. Recreational uses are allowed on this zoning via Special Exception.
Located on 34.5 acres to the east of Ed Perry Boulevard, the project proposes several multi-use outdoor sports fields to accommodate baseball, softball, soccer and other outdoor sporting activities. An approximate 106,000-square-foot, multi-purpose indoor sports facility is also planned that will provide indoor basketball and volleyball courts.
Another 25,000-square-foot building is planned as a future phase.
The request for the special exception came from Chip Wade with SPI Oxford Commons. He said the facility will target “elite” athletics, 13 and older.
“This site is really geared around supplementing and providing additional pathways for kids that mTrade and the community centers don’t,” Wade said. “Once they are about 13 years old, they have to somewhere else … They’re leaving town and going to Madison, Collierville, Memphis, on a daily basis … It’s about being able to bring in elite-level, high school-age tournaments and training that most of the guys are leaving town for now.”
Wade said a recent economic-impact study projected a $32 million impact.
“Brings in tournaments and training 45 weekends a year that is currently not here,” Wade said.
Three people who live near the proposed sports complex spoke at the meeting Monday saying they had concerns about stormwater runoff and traffic; however, their biggest concern was light coming from the fields.
City staff recommended approving the special exception, but required that all outdoor uses close and all lighting turned off by 10 p.m. and that the indoor facility be constructed with soundproofing materials so that sound does not leave the building.
The Planning Commission approved the special exception, which only allows the project to move forward through the planning process. Issues such as lighting, traffic, stormwater, and sound will be more closely studied during the site plan review process. The Planning Commission will also review and vote to approve or deny the site plan once it is complete.
The special exception was approved with a 4 to 2 vote.
Chairman JR Rigby encouraged staff to continue working with the developer to address lighting and the other concerns expressed by neighbors.