GRANDVIEW, Mo. -- City leaders and young soccer players gathered on Tuesday to break ground on a nearly $300 million project.
The new Gateway Sports Complex will include 14 lit artificial turf soccer fields, as well as hotels and retail space. A news release from the city of Grandview says it will also be the first soccer complex in the nation to include three hotels with 540 rooms.
City leaders voted in mid-June to give developers a $61 million tax incentive to make the project happen. The huge plot of land sits near 150 Highway near Byars Road.
People currently living in Grandview told FOX 4 News they've waited for more than 30 years for something this promising. The Gateway Sports Village, which is expected to open next spring, packs the potential to bring back a city that's been hungry for opportunities.
Main Street is a mere 10 minutes from the epicenter of energy -- the sports village tract of land -- which, for now, looks more like a large cow pasture.
Dennis Randolph, Grandview's director of public works, says he's spent more than six years working with multiple projects that could new business to the city. The Gateway Sports Village, and its seven million square feet of activity, could do the trick.
"What we needed was for people to see Grandview in a different light. I believe we've done that," Randolph told FOX 4 News.
Randolph points to crime rates, and keeping them low. He points out a relationship between drop in the city's crime rate and the rise in sales tax revenue. He and others say it's been tough shedding Grandview's former image as a troubled community.
"That place off 150 Highway. You've got to do it right. You don't get a second chance, but we're doing it the right way," Randolph said.
Downtown business operators in Grandview pray the new sports complex pushes more business into their laps.
"Big things are happening here," Mary Wilson, editor of the Jackson County Advocate newspaper, said.
Wilson, who also serves as president of the Grandview Main Street Organization, says she and other businesses are working together to fill their storefronts with commerce.
"I think people are very excited about the soccer complex. It will bring so much retail and so many people who aren't in our immediate area to our community," Wilson said.
"It will help our schools. It will help our other businesses."
Developers are planning a grand opening for the Gateway Sports Complex this coming spring. They're hopeful restaurants, hotels and other businesses near the soccer complex follow shortly thereafter.