Featured Article, Space Coast Sports Complex, Viera, FL

The Space Coast Sports Complex

Extra!! Extra!!

Read all about it!!

New sporting complex slated to be a "game-changer" for local community!!

These could very well have been the call of the media heralds this past April when developers officially broke ground on the expansion and renovation project for the new Space Coast Sports Complex in Viera, Florida.

Space Coast Sports Complex Under Construction
Space Coast Sports Complex Under Construction

It certainly was the consensus of the local and state government officials, community leaders, businessmen, and executives of The Viera Company, who were on hand for the ceremonial groundbreaking at 5800 Stadium Parkway. It is the site where the Space Coast Stadium already stands and where the new home of the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) Space Coast Sports Complex will be located.

United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA)

The USSSA is the largest multi-sport athletic organization in the world. It was founded in 1968, by Robert Mueller, James DiOrio, Ray Ernst, Frank Ciaccia and Ted Mazza, as a means to making what they felt were much needed improvements to the way existing slow-pitch softball associations were organized. However, with a desire to represent a vast array of sports disciplines and a steadfast determination to meet the needs of all those they represent (from player to coach, team to sponsors, or park owners to fans), that vision grew. In 1997, the USSSA became the first sports regulatory body to govern over multiple sports. Since then the Association has grown to be the world's largest such athletic organization, with over 4.5 million participants who are involved in 14 sports including, baseball, softball, basketball, soccer and karate.

The Space Coast Stadium

The Space Coast Stadium is an 8,100 seat, baseball stadium in the community of Viera. The stadium is owned by Brevard County and is situated on land that was donated by the DUDA company. It was officially put in play in March of 1994, just in time for the Florida Marlins to play their first Spring training home game there against the Kansas City Royals. It was a momentous win for the baseball team and an auspicious start to their partnership with the stadium.

The Marlins held their Spring training at the Viera facility for nine years until 2003 when they switched training to Jupiter, Florida. The team had recently been purchased by the owner of the Montreal Expos and he moved the Expos Spring training to the Space Coast Stadium instead. That team trained there as the Expos for two years until 2004, when the franchise moved to Washington D.C. In 2005, as the Washington Nationals, the team renewed their relationship with the stadium for use as a spring training facility.

During this period the stadium hosted three Florida State League All-Star Games and the 33-acre facility was home to minor league baseball's Brevard County Manatees. The Nationals' rookie team, the Gulf Coast League Nationals, even held some of their games there.

Investments of millions of dollars of improvements was able to keep the Major League Baseball team in the Space Coast for a little over a decade, but 2016 was the Nationals' final year at Space Coast Stadium. That was also the last year the Brevard County Manatees would call the Stadium their home, as the team relocated to Kissimmee, Florida and changed its name.

Things may have seemed bleak for the town of Viera and indeed the entire county, as the baseball park stood without tenants for the first time in its history, but big plans were in the works. A marriage of sorts was being planned between the Brevard County Board of Commissioners and the world renowned athletic organization, and it was set to be a spectacular affair.

Renovation & Expansion

The product of this union is the expansion project that began in January of 2017 and is expected to be completed this coming Fall. As the USSSA's new home, the formerly Kissimmee based group will move its headquarters to Viera. With a combined budget of $32 million to invest, the county and the athletic organization have big plans for renovating and enhancing the complex. These improvements require increasing the size of the 33-acre facility to 85 acres and include:
  • Upgrades to the existing 8,100 seat stadium, with 11 suites and a video board
  • Switching the existing turf in the stadium and the former Washington Nationals' practice fields from natural to full synthetic
  • Additional turf fields for softball, baseball, and youth play (15 in total)
  • Each of the 15 fields will have dugouts, scoreboards, netting and shaded seating structures
  • All of the fields will be outfitted with the latest LED lighting, many with enhanced media capabilities
  • The main field, and 2 other "Championship" fields will have video boards
  • A renovated indoor training facility for rehabilitation and clinics
  • 2 new, two-story concession structures
  • New parking lots, sidewalks and landscaping

Space Coast Sports Complex Map
Space Coast Sports Complex Map (Source: usssa.com)

A Boon For Local Businesses & Local Economy

With amateur sports and its accompanying tournaments quickly blossoming into one of the largest growing markets today, Brevard County officials are hoping this bold, new look brings fresh life and strong rewards to the area's economy. Even though the complex has not officially opened for business, the forecasted returns have already started to come in. The new complex quickly became the official home of the USSSA professional women's softball team, the Pride, and this past June they played their first home game at the Space Coast Stadium. Additionally, there are over 60 events booked for 2018 so far.

USSSA Pride Professional Women's Softball Team Promotional Trailer
USSSA Pride Professional Women's Softball Team Promotional Trailer

The real profit however, will be reaped by local businesses and the area tourism industry. The sports organization has done lucrative business with the Osceola County hotel industry in the past, amounting to what was hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue per year. It has been estimated to generate a projected 75,000 hotel room nights in its first year in Brevard, and a further 100,000 room nights by the third year. That would bring in an estimated $500,000 a year in tourist taxes alone. Also of note, is the added benefits to area businesses as team families move into and visit the area, and droves of fans and patrons start to frequent the games.

The USSSA's mission is "to be the most visibly recognized, technologically advanced, professionally represented sports organization in the world," and it has amassed much success and a proven track record over the years. Hopefully that winning formula will follow them to the USSSA Space Coast Sports Complex. The people of the community of Viera, Brevard County, and indeed the Space Coast are rooting for this new home team.

Please share your comments on this article about The Space Coast Sports Complex: