Indoor Sports

Kearney awaits Indoor Sports Complex

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KEARNEY — It doesn’t have an official name yet.

For now, everyone involved is calling it the Kearney Indoor Sports Complex.

The long-anticipated project is now in the planning phase ahead of going to bid, Kearney Recreation Services Director Scott Hayden said.

Previously reported to cost an estimated $34 million, that number remains uncertain,  Hayden said, and a more specific cost hasn’t been released yet.

Kearney voters approved the new facility in December 2021. It will be off Interstate 80.

Its 210,000-square-foot imprint will have a gym with eight basketball courts and 12 volleyball courts, turf fields, a three-lane track, four standalone pickleball courts and many supporting spaces.

“Kearney is an active community,” Hayden said. “Our outdoor sports fields are really busy from late spring through fall, but our indoor opportunities are relatively limited. This facility will help us keep up with the growth and solve some of the needs that we have.”

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The courts for basketball and volleyball will also host wrestling tournaments.

Turf has long been desired, Hayden said, and will be able to handle a variety of activities such as soccer, football, baseball, softball and even ultimate frisbee.

Pickleball “continues to soar,” he said, not only in Kearney, but nationally.

“Facilities like this are starting to become more commonplace,” he said. “A facility like this better facilitates youth and adult sports tournaments and lead games, practices and drop-in play.”

Kearney serves as a regional hub for central and western Nebraska, attracting conferences, conventions and other events.

“We hope to attract 20-plus tournaments a year in various sports,” Hayden said, “which will not only bring revenue to our town, but will also be nice for the locals, so they don’t have to travel as often.”

Much work goes into making such a facility into reality, Hayden said.

“It’s a large building, so there’s a large amount of details that go with it,” he said. “It’s really making sure we’re thinking through all the details, to be able to handle large volumes of people, and also meet the needs of each particular sport.”

There are challenges, too, with inflation and the rising cost of materials.

“We’re working with our architect and our contractor and really looking at the materials we use and select, making sure we understand the availability and those types of things,” Hayden said.

Working on such a project is an exciting opportunity for Hayden.

“It’s a once-in-a-career project,” he said. “We’ve done some larger projects, but every one’s a little different. There’s a learning curve to it, but we have a great team in place. The key is using everybody’s talents, including our own. We know from a sports programming standpoint to make sure we have a very functional building, but also one that’s a quality building, too.”

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