MILL CREEK — Two projects aimed at bolstering recreational opportunities in and around Mill Creek are moving forward.
One is a private venture that could begin construction in the next few days; the other is a series of improvements at the city-owned Mill Creek Sports Park.
Arena Sports on Wednesday announced it will soon break ground on its largest project to date, a 98,000-square-foot sports and entertainment center that will include indoor soccer fields, bowling lanes, laser tag, an inflatable playground, more than 100 arcade games, a rock-climbing tower and a ropes course, as well as a pizza restaurant, community and corporate meeting space and rooms to host parties. Soccer fields also can be used for lacrosse.
“We have all the permits. We are waiting for the weather to cooperate,” said Don Crowe, CEO of Arena Sports. “They are getting mobile.”
Company officials hope the center, which will be called Arena Sports and Entertainment, will open in October, before winter seasons start. The complex is being built on a 6.7-acre site near the intersection of Dumas Road and the Bothell-Everett Highway. It also is close to the Mill Creek Sports Park and Henry M. Jackson High School. Arena Sports had been eyeing the land for more than four years.
The $17 million project calls for a workforce of 200. The site would be open seven days a week.
Crowe said an experienced staff will be brought in to lead the Mill Creek site.
“Most of our management teams started on the front lines, either as a coach or referee or in customer service,” he said. “We hire from within primarily.”
Arena Sports considered other locations, but Mill Creek topped the list from the beginning because of its growing family population and strong participation in youth and adult sports. Company leaders say they hope to attract about a million visits a year, mainly in off-peak traffic hours on nights and weekends.
Mill Creek would be the fifth and largest indoor sports location for Arena Sports. The Redmond-based company expects roughly half of its business to be special events and parties at the Mill Creek complex.
MG2 is the project architect.
“The building is designed to be a soccer-first facility, while also providing a lively off-the-field experience for guests,” MG2 CEO Mitch Smith said in a news release. “In that way, the space becomes a year-round destination both for sports and entertainment.”
The Mill Creek site would include men’s, women’s and co-ed adult leagues as well as competitive and recreational youth leagues for ages 5 through high school. Children 18 months old to age 9 would would be able to join the Lil’ Kickers developmental soccer program and there are skill training programs for ages 5 through 12.
The Lil’ Kickers program has more than 130 franchises across the United States and Canada and more than 100,000 children enrolled annually.
“It is a child development program more than a soccer program,” Crowe said. “We are not trying to turn them into Pele at 18 months.”
While Arena Sports readies for construction, the City of Mill Creek has announced plans to make improvements to its popular Mill Creek Sports Park in the spring or summer of 2018.
The city recently received a $100,000 grant from Snohomish County to help replace field turf, upgrade the lighting and install a handicapped-accessible gate by the third-base dugout.
The city has budgeted $775,000 for the project, said Joni Kirk, a city spokeswoman. Engineering and design work is planned for later this year. Along the way, the city also hopes to receive a $250,000 youth athletics facilities grant from state Recreation Conservation Office. It is proposed in the state budget.
The sports park project has been part of the city’s long-term capital improvement plan.
The field will get new turf with embedded baseball, softball and soccer lines that would reduce city painting maintenance. It’s a busy place, rented by youth sports organizations for more than 2,600 hours over 330 days a year.
New LED lighting is expected to last 20 years and reduce power consumption by more than 60 percent.
“The field construction must wait until dry conditions to allow the turf adhesive to bond,” said Brian Davern, the city’s recreation and tourism manager. “We know the timing of this will impact Little League, but they are aware of it and making alternative preparations.”
Kirk said the city has been hoping to tap into a growing sports tourism market as part of its economic development strategy and the two projects go hand in hand toward that end.
Snohomish County Councilman Terry Ryan, a former Mill Creek council member, said the $100,000 grant should have a significant return on investment for the county.
“Tourism is a $1 billion industry for Snohomish County,” he said. “Working closely with communities like Mill Creek, we can continue to build tourism as an economic driver for the county.”
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; firstname.lastname@example.org.