WILMINGTON -- Local softball players will soon have a new place to play. New Hanover County and the City of Wilmington are making dreams of new fields come true. The City hopes the new park will help silence critics who say there are never enough ball fields and facilities to play sports. People on hand at Friday's announcement said having places to stay active is important. Olsen Park will have a number of different uses. Wilmington Parks and Recreation director Gary Shell said, "We have multi-purpose fields that can be converted to whatever use we want them to have. They'll be used for soccer one day, maybe kite flying another day." Five softball and baseball fields will be built in a circular shape to accommodate more games, people and large tournaments. Senior Softball Association president Joe Seme said, "Most of us play in tournaments and we travel around to other towns and we see the beautiful facilities they have. This park has so many different benefits. It provides a number of opportunities for local citizens to have better facilities. The baseball, softball complex, is the first improvement we've had in that area in probably 25 years." More tournaments could lead to more cash for the City of Wilmington "That fills up restaurants and motels. Brings a major economic impact to our community," Shell said. Parks and Recreation officials say the new facility will provide places for soccer, volleyball and tennis. Also included in the plan are state-of-the-art playgrounds for children and walking and hiking trails. "This park really has something for everybody," Shell said. Olsen Park will be located off of Murrayville Road. The newly purchased land will be combined with land already owned by New Hanover County, giving the park a total of 88 acres. Of course the plans also include room for concession stands and restrooms. The construction of Oslen Park won't begin for a couple of months. Officials estimate the project will cost more than $8 million to complete.
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