It wasn’t long ago that when cities facing a budget a crisis hit the Parks and Recreation department with the ax first. That is no longer the case, at least in North Texas.
"Parks has become a revenue generating department," said James Kunke, spokesperson for the City of Lewisville.
Lewisville has become the latest city to invest millions of dollars in a state-of-the-art outdoor sports park.
Railroad Park, is 260-plus acres of pristine, soccer, football and baseball fields. Playing fields here have their own scoreboards. There are concession stands, bleachers for fans, a skate park and two dog parks adding to the quality of life for Lewisville citizens.
"The first time I came here with my husband our son and our dog, we said, 'Ooh yeah, this is it,'" said Anna Rodriguez, Lewisville resident.
The park's real worth is to Lewisville’s economy. This park is expected to make millions of dollars for the city by hosting sports tournaments, the first of which will debut next week with 100 soccer teams taking the field.
City leaders believe that while travel is down in this economy, sports tourism is consistently seeing growth.
Lessons learned by Lewisville in observing neighboring cities like Frisco, McKinney, Plano and Allen, all of which are enjoying the fruits of sports tourism dollars centered on kids sports.
A weekend with 100 teams in town could fill every hotel in Lewisville while the surrounding area, restaurants and stores will be packed. The city estimates each large tournament could result in an influx of $300,000 in revenue for Lewisville in a single weekend.
"Parks and recreation and revenue for the city doesn't have to be an either-or proposition. It can be both," said Lathan Watts, Lewisville’s Mayor Pro-Tem.
If Lewisville has it’s way, between tournaments and local league fees, Railroad Park could make the city’s Parks and Recreation Department entirely self-sufficient and even have some cash leftover for other budget priorities.