Leaders celebrate official groundbreaking of new youth sports complex at Mid-South fairgrounds

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It’s being billed as something that could bring a big shot in the arm to Memphis’s economy, as construction on the large project slated for the old Mid-South fairgrounds is now underway.

Once completed, Liberty Park is expected to bring people from all over the country to the Memphis area, officials said Monday at a ceremonial groundbreaking attended by city leaders, members of the city council and legislative representatives.

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“It’s an economic catalyst for our community,” said Paul Young, president and CEO of the Downtown Memphis Association.

Young, in his previous role as director of the Memphis Division of Housing and Community Development, helped develop the plans, which call for the construction of a 227,000 square foot building, known as the Memphis Sports and Events Center, with space for youth indoor sports like basketball and volleyball, as well as multiple outdoor fields.

An area near Central Ave. will include a large, mixed-use development to house hotels, restaurants and apartments.

“We want to have tournaments bringing in people from all across the region. We also want our local Memphians to take advantage of this space,” said Young.

The project is funded largely by money raised by the state that’s set to be repaid at a later date.

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“We will welcome visitors, newcomers and our own citizens,” said city Mayor Jim Strickland.

Strickland was joined by other leaders to talk about the project, including Memphis City Council chair Frank Colvett, Jr.

“This takes a stand for youth and sports in our community like nothing anyone has ever seen,” Colvett, Jr. said.

Young said the effort to construct Liberty Park began in 2007. Because of that, he said he believed the area is uniquely positioned to help growth in the rest of the city.

“We certainly have to continue to work on areas in the north and the south, but this will be an opportunity to have a central location,” Young said.

The project is slated to be completed in Oct. 2022.

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