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WATERLOO | Dan Watters wants people to be able to keep their New Year's resolutions to stay fit after their holiday feast.

He has a great way for them to do it.

It's brand new sports complex in downtown Waterloo, which will open right after New Year's.

An opening ceremony for the Cedar Valley SportsPlex will be 3 p.m. Friday, Jan. 3, followed by tours. On Saturday, Jan. 4, it will be open to the public.

"It's a spectacular facility. It'll really have all the amenities we need." said Watters, a local banking executive who is a member of the nonprofit downtown Waterloo Development Corp., which has been involved with the facility's development and construction.

"We're working 12 hours a day to get it done," Watters said. "It's an exciting time, but everyone's under the gun to get it done. We're shooting for when everyone's New Year's resolutions take effect.

"It helps given improved look to the west side of our downtown," Watters said. "It'll change the image of our community, and it really gives another amenity to attract the work force we need to stay competitive for business."

The WDC and the city will host the grand opening. Mark Gallagher, recreation services manager with the Waterloo Leisure Services departments, said people will be impressed with what they see.

Among the first things will be a large field turf area that can be used for a number of purposes including soccer, flag football and indoor baseball and softball batting practice.

There's also a leisure pool with a slide, zero depth entrance with water features for younger kids, a current channel and three lanes for lap swimming.

Rick Young, who headed up fundraising for the project for the WDC, also said it will include basketball courts, a running track, a full complement of exercise equipment, a multipurpose room for activities such as Jazzercise and an area for indoor golf. A nursery for young children also will be available.

Of those items, the basketball courts won't be complete opening day, Gallagher and Young said, to allow time for court wood and paint to cure.

A drive for memberships begins now and continues up to and through the grand opening, Gallagher said. Some have already been sold. "Judging by the way our phone's been ringing, when people walk around, we have no doubt they'll be impressed," Gallagher said.

In addition, about 30 businesses are in discussions about making the facility available to their employees. And the Cedar Valley Youth Soccer Association will heavily utilize the facility.

A downtown sports complex has been discussed off an on for more than a quarter century. Those talks recurred 10 to 12 years ago concurrent with downtown riverfront improvements, Watters said. Fundraising for the SportsPlex, as it currently is conceived, began in earnest about three years ago.

As to whether the project took longer than anticipated, Watters said, "It's a huge project. And any delays, reported delays, should have been anticipated." But he said all involved are very excited to have set an opening date.

Young said about $23.5 million has been raised for the project, with less than $1 million yet to go. Donations came foundations businesses and individuals.

"Some gave the most they've ever given," Young said.

It includes some $750,000 in state funds and $8 million over eight years from the Black Hawk County Gaming Association.

Cardinal Construction of Waterloo is the project general contractor. Young added that a number of local subcontractors have been utilized to finish the project.

The Jan. 3 grand opening event is free and open to the public. Regular operating hours will begin Jan. 4.

The grand opening will include refreshments, giveaways, and a brief program in the gymnasium, followed by staff-guided tours. Interested visitors will be able to purchase memberships on the spot.

"We are excited to let people see everything that is available in this state-of-the-art facility,” said Paul Huting, director of the city of Waterloo Leisure Services. "There has already been a lot of excitement as we have been registering members and promoting the SportsPlex for months. Now it’s time for the community to start enjoying their incredible new SportsPlex."

"The Cedar Valley has never had an all-encompassing facility like this,” said Waterloo Mayor Buck Clark. "It will allow for vast improvement for our Leisure Services department, and give people of all ages and abilities the chance to become healthier, happier citizens.”

"The SportsPlex allows individuals of all ages to feel connected,” said Young, offering "truly something for everyone."

Dan Watters of the Waterloo Development Corp. said, "This facility will not only enhance quality-of-life opportunities for our citizens, it will also serve as an economic development tool by driving visitors to our revitalized downtown area,” he said. "It gives our local employers another tool for recruiting talented employees and their families to our great city."

For more information regarding class schedules, membership rates and a full list of services and amenities, visit www.CVSportsPlex.org.

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News Editor at the Courier

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