Construction of a proposed Miracle Field could be the first component at the Grener Soccer Complex, a 103-acre sports park on the east side of Cosgray Road, north of Hoffman Farms Drive.
The land has been the subject of speculation since the end of 2014, when Hilliard City Schools agreed to sell 103.5 acres to Hilliard for $4 million.
The district had purchased the land, which was part of a larger tract of 124 acres north of Scioto Darby Road between Cosgray and Leppert roads, for $50,000 per acre from the Grener family in 2003. It originally was a potential site for Bradley High School and almost was sold to a housing developer in 2013.
City leaders long had envisioned it as a potential spot for sports complexes, and the first facility built nearby was Bo Jackson's Elite Sports at 4696 Cosgray Road.
The sports dome, which opened in January 2017, is north of the Miracle Field site.
A Miracle Field is a baseball field for children and adults with physical and cognitive disabilities. The special outdoor fields have a surface that can accommodate wheelchairs and children with special needs, and sports leagues often team up children up with "buddies" to help them play games.
Hilliard has received a $150,000 grant from the state to build a Miracle Field, according to Butch Seidle, Hilliard's public-services director. The grant requires the city to move forward soon, he said.
The city would need to contribute about $200,000 for the Miracle Field, Seidle said.
The Miracle League of Central Ohio operates another Miracle Field close by at Darree Fields Park in Dublin.
Meanwhile, members of Hilliard City Council have been asked to respond to a concept plan created by the Kleingers Group for the Grener Soccer Complex.
"The sooner the better," Seidle said.
The city budgeted $90,000 for the first phase of the concept plan, Seidle said, adding he hopes a final plan is complete by the end of the year.
Kristan Turner, a recreation supervisor for the Hilliard Recreation and Parks Department, said five large soccer complexes in Cleveland, Dayton, Toledo, Carmel in Indiana and Saginaw Township in Michigan were studied to create Hilliard's concept plan. The Indiana complex is where the NFL's Indianapolis Colts and the NBA's Indiana Pacers practice, she said.
Twelve fields – 10 natural and two synthetic – are planned on the city-owned land, plus six more natural playing fields on 22 acres the school district still owns, she said.
About 1,650 parking spots are allocated, Turner said.
Councilman Les Carrier, chairman of City Council's recreation and parks committee, said he supports the proposal as long as enough fields are created to ensure the complex would attract soccer competitions and other regional sporting events.
"I know we need enough parking, too, but we need to make sure there are enough fields," he said.