Matthews, N.C. (June 20, 2017) — The $32 million SportsPlex at Matthews celebrated the grand opening of its stadium and the completion of its main infrastructure Saturday by hosting a live band, a VIP reception and an inaugural home victory by its United Soccer League (USL) team, the Charlotte Independence, in front of a sold-out crowd.
The venue, at 2425 Sports Parkway in Matthews, has been more than a decade in the making. Mecklenburg County hired Woolpert—a national architecture, engineering and geospatial firm—in the mid-2000s to plan and design the SportsPlex at Matthews.
“The community requested a tournament-caliber athletics facility for a variety of local sports and events,” said Andrew Pack, Woolpert’s Sports and Recreation Market Leader. “The desire was to meet the needs of the community first, with their quality of life at the forefront, and then consider the possibilities of a regional facility of this scope.”
Woolpert conducted public meetings to gather input and support from the community and multiple municipal officials, noting considerations from tourism to the urban ecosystem to profitability to community impact before plans were made and ground was broken.
Based on this information, the SportsPlex at Matthews was constructed to include a 2,700-seat championship/tournament stadium venue that will be expanded to 4,000 seats, 12 lighted and irrigated sports fields, nine synthetic fields, two grass fields, a premier grass field, restroom buildings, shelters, trails, a playground and a two-story fieldhouse.
The fieldhouse has office space, a referee locker room, two team locker rooms, a training room, catering space and a large meeting area with covered balconies.
“The goal of a project of this scope is to create experiences as much as an awesome sports venue,” Pack said. “We’ve found that taking this track leads to well-rounded and well-attended destination sites such as this, which are not only positioned to meet the needs of the region but also can be a multimillion-dollar boon to the community.”
At the grand opening, the Charlotte Independence defeated the Harrisburg City Islanders, 2-0, in a league match. The SportsPlex is now the home field for the Independence, which is a member of the growing USL. The professional soccer league has 30 markets in 20 states and two Canadian provinces.
“We wanted to design a SportsPlex for all ages, from the young kid learning how to play to the professional level,” Pack said. “Young players are going to be able to experience what the pros experience, and do so on the same field. That’s a win no matter the score.”
SportsPlex Director James R. Garges thanked the Woolpert team after Saturday’s event for “the strong will and talent” it took to make the site a showplace.
“It would be hard to tally up all the meetings, late nights, frustrations, and challenges of permitting and construction,” Garges said. “However, last Saturday night showed how it was all worth it. Your professionalism and dedication to doing it right has really paid off. We were very lucky to have all of you on the project. It’s a memory maker!”
Woolpert is a national architecture, engineering and geospatial (AEG) firm that delivers value to clients by strategically blending engineering excellence with leading-edge technology and geospatial applications. With a dynamic R&D department, Woolpert works with inventive business partners like Google and Esri; operates a fleet of planes, sensors and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS); and continually pushes industry boundaries by working with advanced water technologies, asset management, Building Information Modeling (BIM) and sustainable design. Woolpert’s mission is to help its clients progress—and become more progressive. For over 100 years and with 26 offices across the United States, Woolpert serves the needs of federal, state and local governments; private and public companies and universities; energy and transportation departments; and the United States Armed Forces. The firm currently is doing business in all 50 states and in six countries. For more information, visit woolpert.com or call 937-531-1258.