CROWN POINT | At the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Crown Point Sportsplex on Thursday night, Mayor David Uran said the project was truly a team effort.

Uran expressed gratitude to all those who had made the Sportsplex improvements possible.

"This field has a long history," Uran told the crowd which included former Mayor James Metros. "This facility, the building you see sitting behind us, had a long history. For more than 50 years kids have been out here pouring their sweat, tears and blood on these fields. The friendships last forever."

Jack Bixeman, one of the three founding coaches of the Crown Point Panthers Junior Football League in 1953, said the league started with just three coaches and 35 players.

It has grown to 650 participants with a 99-game schedule.

Uran said the virtues of sports are giving children the competitive edge for discipline, time management and learning how to work well with others.

Uran said the ultimate goal is to make the Sportsplex a yearround facility and make it a great destination point to attract to tourism to Crown Point.

Bruce White, CEO of White Lodging Services, represented the Dean and Barbara White Foundation who donated $1.1 million to the project. White said Crown Point sports played a major role in his family. White played on the Pop Warner football team in 1966 and coached teams in the 1970s and 1980s.

"When I was young, my dad said what I really love for you kids is to find something that you really love to do and are not very good at and develop a great passion for it," White said. "For me, that was football. I learned right here about the values of persistence, hard work and team work"

The Sportsplex, 1313 North St., has two combination football/soccer/lacrosse fields with artificial turf, underlying drainage systems and pervious pavement around the building. Uran said the parking lot acts as a retention pond under the surface and is a improvement to the city's drainage system.

The project cost about $3.6 million for the fields, parking lot, building renovations, concession stand and bathrooms. Funding included $1.1 million from the sale of the Breyfogle property; a $1.5 million bond sale; and the Dean and Barbara White Foundation donation.

Under a contract signed this month, the complex will host two Boone Groove High School football games, one tonight and the other Oct. 7. The team is renting the field for $600 per game and the Crown Point Parks Department will run the concession stand.

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