© 2024 WRVO Public Media
NPR News for Central New York
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Locals question proposed sports complex in the Town of Salina

An artist rendering of a proposed sports complex in the Town of Salina
Onondaga County
An artist rendering of a proposed sports complex in the Town of Salina

When Lou Valerino heard the news about Onondaga County’s proposal for a $25 million soccer and lacrosse complex in Salina he said he was “blindsided.”

Valerino has played softball at Hopkins field for the past 40 years and currently runs the Senior Softball league there. He said nearby residents and people who use the facilities had no heads up about the proposal, which would relocate the fields he’s played on for decades to Dewitt.

“There's a lot of things that go into this,” said Valerino. “I don't think a lot of things for thought about before the proposal was even put out there.”

The idea of a mega-facility to generate sports tourism is one that County Executive Ryan McMahon has thrown around for quite some time, citing its economic benefits to the area.

While she understands the economic impact this new complex would have, Onondaga County Legislator Mary Kuhn says there are better ways to use the American Rescue Plan money.

“There are so many things that are directly pandemic related, that we could use that money for,” said Kuhn.

Valerino said he doesn’t see why they need the complex to drum up tourism when it’s already well-used by both locals and travel teams. In fact, the facility currently hosts an annual softball tournament that brings in at least 800 players across 68 teams.

“Hopkins road is not advertised at all because people just come there and expect to play,” he said.

Kuhn and Valerino agree that they would’ve liked the county to have a conversation with those using the existing facilities and those impacted by the complex before this announcement.

“If there was a real plan in place that was going to sit down and people would have been able to work this out beforehand and there wouldn't have been any hurt feelings at all,” said Valerino.

Madison Ruffo received a Master’s Degree from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, where she specialized in audio and health/science reporting. Madison has extensively covered the environment, local politics, public health, and business. When she’s not reporting, you can find Madison reading, hiking, and spending time with her family and friends.