Hot Springs eyes mine site for sports complex

Wilson Mine Site - picture by KATV

(KATV) The Wilson Mine in Hot Springs has been inactive since the 80's and it has taken a minerals corporation 27-years to restore. It's has been a diamond in the rough, but the City of Hot Springs says it's time for it to shine, specifically as a long awaited youth outdoor sports complex.

Visit Hot Springs has been looking for a site since 2010. The 500 acres is prime real estate. It is a half mile outside the city, near tourist attractions, hotels, restaurants and just off the Martin Luther King 4-lane expressway.

The city is in the first phase of negotiations and gave Channel Seven a tour of the area Wednesday. It's hard to imagine there was once a vanadium metal mine here [picture]. The picturesque property has rolling green hills, water meets the end of the land, and you can catch wildlife in its element.

Steve Arrison says, "People travel miles and miles to watch their kids play youth sports. We know this is a one in a million site, you will not be able to go to a sports complex anywhere in the United States and have more beautiful views than you can get right here."

Umetco Minerals Corporation, under the supervision of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) has reclaimed the land. It's not complete, which will give all sides time to work out the details.

The Advertising and Promotions Commission plans to pay for the project with an existing tax. Arrison explains, "There will be no new taxes, the complex could be in the range of $12 to $16 million dollars when complete."

Arrison says the vision is a multi purposes outdoor sports complex. Think soccer, softball, flag football, lacrosse. There's space for mountain biking, running trails, the possibilities are endless.

He says Hot Springs is behind the curve and the economic impact is in the millions and will make the city the whole package. "We have lakes, theme park, water park, Oaklawn horse racing and gaming, and an indoor arena for sports tournaments. I think this is our spot and we just can't wait to get started."

Negotiations started this year so the land cost for this public-private partnership hasn't been discussed.