In our highly popular Facebook post that can be found by clicking here, we referred to the new Winter Haven Fieldhouse and Conference Center as a “really great project for the community.” Looking back, we might have understated the project just a bit. Instead, we should’ve referred to it as an “absolutely fantastic project for the community.”
From where we sit, that’s our take on the fieldhouse, which is currently under construction and as an extension to the Chain O’ Lakes Complex at Cypress Gardens Boulevard and U.S. Highway 17, S.W.
Many folks have heard about and know about the fieldhouse, but our guess is that just as many folks haven’t heard about it or don’t have many of the details. For that reason, we present here a few facts about the project and how city officials and community leaders hope it will be used.
- The groundbreaking ceremony for the fieldhouse was held October 25.
- The project cost is estimated at $26 million. The Winter Haven City Commission passed a $25 million bond issue for the project in August 2017. The Polk County government has chipped in some design and construction funds, too.
- Project planners have promised a state-of-the-art center with 83,330 square feet of space for athletic and business activities.
- Straught Trout Architects of Lakeland designed the fieldhouse. Rodda Construction of Lakeland and Everett Whitehead and Sons of Winter Haven are heading up construction.
- Construction is expected to be completed by November 2019.
- The project scope will include renovations to the Chain O’ Lakes Complex, home to Theatre Winter Haven, the Ridge Art Association, and the “Rowdy” Gaines Olympic Pool (RGOP).
- The fieldhouse will be the practice home of the Lakeland Magic, a National Basketball Association G League team.
- The fieldhouse and conference center are expected to be big draws to the city. Polk County Sports Marketing officials have estimated that the new complex will host about 60 sporting and conference event each year.
- City officials say the facility’s positive spillover effect will include more business for local restaurants, retail centers, and hotels, and more use of the Chain of Lakes Park baseball and recreational complex.
- Combined, the fieldhouse and conference center are expected to have a considerable local economic impact — about $22 million locally, officials report.
- The Chain O’ Lakes Complex currently is closed for renovations and fieldhouse construction. The city of Winter Haven’s Parks, Recreation & Culture Department has been moved temporarily to the Florida Citrus Building at 500 Third St., N.W.
If you’re interested in keeping up with construction of the fieldhouse and conference center and renovations to the Chain O’ Lakes Complex, you can visit and “Like” the city’s Parks, Recreation & Culture Facebook page.