Between Dunbar and Institute, surrounding a prehistoric Adena burial mound, Shawnee Park currently is 127 acres of under-utilized mediocrity. Its golf course draws only a modest number of players.
But the site has great prospects if it becomes a wholesome multi-sports complex drawing swarms of families from many states to soccer, baseball, football, softball and lacrosse tournaments.
In Thursday’s paper, Kanawha Commissioner Ben Salango presented the case for converting Shawnee. He pointed out that “travel sports” pump $8 billion into local economies around America yearly.
For example, holding the state high school basketball tournament at the Civic Center brings families from all over West Virginia. They stay in Charleston hotels, eat in Charleston restaurants, shop in Charleston stores, buy gasoline at Charleston stations, boosting the capital city by $13 million yearly.
Another example: A sports complex in Duncan, South Carolina, generated $23 million in local spending in 2012 alone.
The proposal before the Kanawha County Commission and county Parks and Recreation Commission would give Shawnee six college-size soccer and lacrosse fields, four college-size baseball/softball fields, plus riverbank practice fields that could be lined for football and other sports. Also, Shawnee would get new picnic shelters, playgrounds and a 1-mile walking track.
When the fields aren’t in use for interstate or regional tournaments, they could provide healthy fun for local teams of many sorts.
The Shawnee plan offers bright possibilities for the Kanawha Valley. We hope it’s adopted, and succeeds.