Grand opening for sportsplex signals next step for major project

Here’s a look at Zoo City Sportsplex, a massive multi-purpose park in Asheboro, from last June. The grand opening is this weekend. (Scott Pelkey/Randolph Record)

Largest park in Asheboro will offer various activities

ASHEBORO – A years-long process of creating a multi-purpose athletic complex is close to the finishing stage.

Zoo City Sportsplex has been part of a vision for many city officials, gradually coming to fruition with about six years of construction.

“People have been so excited to see and use the sportsplex and they’ve waited patiently,” Asheboro mayor David Smith said. “It’s time to let everyone enjoy it.”

A ribbon cutting and grand opening will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday on Rotary Field 1. The sportsplex is located at 2981 Zoo Parkway (along Old Cox Road).

“To be able to be open full time instead of here and there and confusing people,” said Jonathan Sermon, recreation services director for the City of Asheboro. “This is a relief.”

A grand opening had been tagged for last fall before another delay.

Property acquisition for the project began in 2007. More than 85 acres have been acquired.

There are eight fields with artificial turf, six beach volleyball courts, four pickleball courts, a fitness court, a playground, paved walking paths, nature trails and pavilions. A dog park is still in the works and some trail work remains in progress, though all paved areas and bridges have been installed.

The facility has been long-awaited as a venue to serve city residents. It also could have more far-reaching impacts.

“The Zoo City Sportsplex truly demonstrates this community’s commitment to the promotion of athletics, health, and tourism,” Smith said.

Smith said many groups and businesses provided various sources of support and sponsorships to assist in the creation of the park.

Recently, various city departments became involved to assist in completing projects. For instance, city crews installed some speed bumps and also aided in overseeding and mulching.

“We kicked into overdrive and got that done,” Sermon said.

Trevor Nuttall, Asheboro’s community development director, said contributions to the sportsplex have totaled about $22.8 million. Of that, approximately $20.4 million came from the city’s general fund appropriations. There were $1.2 million in state grants.

Nuttall also provided information that shows more than $848,000 in donations from an array of groups, including civic organizations, associations, units of local governments, businesses, foundations and individuals.

In the largest donation level were Terry’s Plumbing & Utilities, The Edward M. Armfield Sr. Foundation and the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. Also, three area Rotary Clubs became involved with donations totaling more than $1,51,000.

Turf fields will be available for football, lacrosse, soccer and other recreational activities.

This weekend marks the first full-scale opening for the facility. Last fall, Uwharrie Charter Academy used the main soccer field for games, youth football teams were on some fields and the Randolph-Asheboro YMCA held sessions for its challenge soccer program at the sportsplex.

This will be by far the largest park in Asheboro, with North Asheboro Park, at about 26 acres, likely the biggest park until Zoo City Sportsplex was put together, Sermon said.

Sermon, who has regularly viewed the progress at the new facility, said standing on the hill overlooking the sportsplex offers an impressive viewpoint.

“I shake my head and can’t believe it,” he said. “Just the size and scope of the entire project.”

By Bob Sutton