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City council to consider Lilburn sports complex

LILBURN -- Leaders in Lilburn are hoping a proposed sports complex will bring economic development to the city.

On Sept. 13, the City Council will consider a franchise agreement with Big League Dreams, a California-based company that operates tournament-level facilities in four states.

According to Mayor Diana Preston, leaders have a vision of converting the Jackson Creek Water Reclamation Facility, a sewage plant on Indian Trail-Lilburn Road that will be retired next year, into the sports complex.

"We like the idea of a destination-type venue," she said. "We've got plenty of retail. ... It's not more of the same to us."

According to its corporate website, Big League Dreams has built 10 sports parks to host tournament-level baseball events as well as adult softball and other events, from Easter sunrise services and weddings to corporate events and concerts.

The fields are built to replicate major sports venues such as Wrigley Field or Yankee Stadium, and an indoor facility would be a part of the complex. Preston said Lilburn's facility may feature soccer or basketball.

"I can see a real use for the community in something like this," she said of a complex, which would charge $3 entry fee for adults.

On Tuesday, commissioners will consider allowing the city to use part of its stimulus bond amount for the proposal, which officials estimate would cost $20 million and take at least two years to open.

If the City Council votes to move forward with the franchise agreement, which the city would own the property but Big League Dreams would operate it, Preston said a $450,000 commitment would be refundable if it proves to be unfeasible.

While the project is in its beginning stages, the mayor said members of the business community have expressed excitement about the potential economic impact of the project.