Visit Lubbock hoping to spend leftover funds improving youth ballpark

Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 10:53 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Visit Lubbock is hoping for a double-play at the Thomas A. Martin Youth Sports Complex. It’s considering renovations at the fields, which it believes would help bring in larger tournaments and create a better game environment for Lubbock families.

John Osborne, the president of Visit Lubbock, says last year, Lubbock brought in nearly 7 million visitors. Many of those stay the night, and send more money into the Hotel Occupancy Tax - some of which comes back to Visit Lubbock.

“The amount of money that comes in on an annual basis today is significantly more than what it was 10 years ago,” Osborne said. ”If we have dollars that we don’t spend in one year, then we keep those in a savings account, so to speak, and then have that opportunity to use that in a future year.”

Today, the total amount that’s been saved is significant enough that the agency is considering how it can improve the Tom Martin complex. Osborne says event planners face some challenges in bringing groups to those fields.

“One is that they’re maxing out; they’re using every single possible field. And then they’re getting some complaints about the fact that the fields are in such rough conditions,” he said.

State laws make it so Hotel Occupancy Tax dollars can only go to city-owned parks that have hosted 10 events generating hotel nights in the previous year. Osborne says only the Berl Huffman Athletic Complex and Tom Martin Complex meet that definition.

Osborne says the City’s already made recent improvements to the soccer fields at the Berl Huffman complex, so this money will go to the Tom Martin fields.

“Not only so that our locals enjoy it and and don’t have any safety concerns, but also so that we can hold more teams here and bring more visitors,” Osborne said. “Because as we bring more visitors, that helps our entire economy.”

Osborne attributes that economy boost to families staying in Lubbock hotels, eating at Lubbock restaurants, and buying the cleats they forgot in Lubbock stores. He says better fields also may encourage more graduates to stay in Lubbock as they start to raise their families.

“But even more importantly that helps retain our workforce, so that we can continue to add the good jobs that we’re adding,” he said.

Osborne says renovation conversations are in their early stages, but he hopes to see improvements in the next few years. He says those could include adding turf, renovating bathrooms, adding more fields, or a combination of all of these.