Pat Shivley, founder and managing director of the Help All Kids Play Foundation, expects the new outdoor athletics complex on 124 acres between Cosgray and Leppert roads to be in use by the end of July.
It will be three years before the facility is completely built out, but activities are planned to start this summer, Shivley said.
"I'm excited," Shivley said. "We will have a first-rate facility."
The Help All Kids Play Foundation is a nonprofit organization that helps economically disadvantaged children participate in organized sports.
Hilliard City Schools rejected the organization's first attempt last year to purchase the 124-acre parcel, once intended to become the site of the district's third high school.
The school district purchased the tract in 2003 for $50,000 per care, a cost of about $6.2 million. After voters rejected two bond issues, district officials purchased a different tract of land on Walker Road where Bradley High School opened in 2009.
Shivley offered to match the district's original $50,000-per-acre purchase price, but he required financing, an option district officials said they could not lawfully consider.
Instead, the district accepted an offer of $40,000 per acre from Rockford Homes.
However, Rockford Homes was unable to obtain the necessary housing density to offset the cost of providing sanitary sewer service to the parcel and other necessary infrastructure, so it withdrew its offer per a contingency in the deal.
That opened the door again for Shivley and Help All Kids Play.
Hilliard school board members on Jan. 13 accepted an offer of $35,000 per acre for 100 acres of the 124-acre tract.
The difference, district officials said, is that Shivley offered cash this time.
The deal requires Shivley to lay out the $3.5 million price at closing, no later than 90 days after the board's Jan. 13 approval of the sale.
Shivley said he is in the process of obtaining funding from multiple private investors but would not divulge the details until the deal is completed.
"We expect to start work in late April, immediately after the closing," Shivley said.
In addition to purchasing the 100 acres, Help All Kids Play will lease the remaining 24 acres of the parcel from the school district for $1 per year, according to the agreement.
The sports facility will have 10 to 20 grass fields, two to four synthetic-turf fields and eight ball diamonds, Shivley said.
Some of the fields will be covered with a mechanical retractable cover, Shivley said.
A development plan is expected to be presented to the Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission in March or April, said Molly Hunter, vice president of operations and senior account manager for the Craig Group, a communications firm employed by Help All Kids Play.
Faris Planning and Design and Advanced Civil Design will perform the architectural and engineering services, Hunter said.
The project is expected to cost between $8 million and $10 million for design and construction, Hunter said.
The Mid-Ohio Select Soccer League is a partner in the development project and will share in the cost and the use of the facility, Hunter said.