Paradise Coast Sports Complex shows off new public fitness, dining areas
Once the Paradise Coast Sports Complex is complete in East Naples, Collier County will have spent roughly $100 million on the multiuse facility with the intent of drawing athletes from around the nation to Naples as part of the country’s booming sports tourism industry.
However, the long-awaited sports complex isn’t just for visitors.
The focus of the complex, located on county land near Collier Boulevard and Interstate 75, is athletics – there will be 20 fields between soccer, baseball and softball once the project is complete, plus a 6,000-person championship stadium. But the goal is to get people to stay after the game is over.
“We’re not just going to be an economic tourism driver,” said Sean Callahan, executive director of corporate business operations for the board of Collier County commissioners. “We’re going to be a place that residents can use.”
That’s where The Cove and The Factory come in.
The former is a bar and food truck area for patrons to relax, listen to live music and play a variety of yard games (bag toss, oversized Connect Four and Jenga, plus ping pong). The latter is an outdoor workout facility focusing on functional fitness (think CrossFit), available for a monthly membership.
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“We want this to be more than just a sports complex,” said Jack Wert, executive director of the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We want to entertain people, whether they’re here for a sports event or not. The Cove can easily become a local hangout during the week, where people can grab a beer or watch the sunset.”
Though use of The Factory requires a fee, there are free fitness options at Paradise Coast.
The man-made lake next to The Cove includes a two-third-of-a-mile jogging loop with three workout stations along the way. There’s also a climbing wall for public use, plus a beach volleyball court.
Even the membership fitness area includes a public space for free workouts. The Fitness Court includes stations for bodyweight workouts. The area was created through a grant from the National Fitness Campaign, a group established in 1979 whose mission is to “build the world’s largest outdoor gym to improve the quality of life for people.”
The Cove is open 4-10 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The area features one food truck now, but there is space (and electrical hookups) for a total of six. Paradise Coast Sports Complex officials hope to expand the hours to seven days a week in December.
The complex is just getting started. It’s on about 50 acres right now, but the county has three more acres available to develop.
Wert said the county hopes to have eight more fields functional by the fall of 2021. By the end of that year, the sports complex hopes to have another eight fields available for play.
The stadium should be complete by January. The field inside the stadium could be ready for use in December when the Football University National Championships come to town.
The FBU event features 24 middle school teams from around the country, and the plan is for all games to be played at the complex. The national championships have been held in Naples the past four years, but the games have been played across town at local high schools and parks.