AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Kids, Inc. raised $6 million in the first two weeks of its capital campaign for a new multi-sport complex in Southwest Amarillo.
“We announced three major league gifts today and we’ve got some more to announce later,” Lackey said on Thursday. “We still need a lot more. We’ve got a $30 million goal in this phase but it’s going really well.”
The initial gifts consisted of three $2 million checks from Amarillo National Bank, Caviness Beef Packers, and an anonymous donor.
Lackey said with unannounced gifts, they are getting close to the halfway point of $15 million.
“We’re well on our way with this community stepping up like it always does,” said Lackey. “This is just one of those projects that’s long overdue and the need’s there, and people are excited about it.”
The campaign began on January 25, 2022 after Rockrose Development donated 90 acres of land to Kids, Inc.
Phase one of the complex, to be constructed south of Loop 335 between Coulter Street and I-27, will consist of an outdoor complex with around 60 acres of lighted synthetic turf sports fields.
Lackey said his goal is still to raise the $30 million by June 30, the end of quarter two.
“That’s our goal and I really believe that if we can get the funds in place by then and turn the construction company loose, that’s enough timeline for them that the possibility exists, we’d be playing on these fields spring of 2023,” he said.
According to Lackey, they will need help from the community to raise the rest of the funds.
“Take $15 million, and divide it by, you know, $500 or $1,000 and look how many people it’s going to take to get the rest of that in,” he continued. “So, we’re still a long ways out and, you know, these big gifts help us close that gap a little quicker.”
He said the benefit for kids and parents makes the investment worthwhile.
“Let’s just talk about a single parent. A single parent’s who’s got three kids playing sports at three different places across town can now just come to one place,” he said. “They’ll play softball over on one area, then play soccer, and another they can play flag football over here, or tackle football over here, run track over there.”
He continued, “That would save a parent a lot of time and money running across town, if we can host those things all in one place. So, just all the inherent aspects that come with a complex like this are gonna be really valuable in the long run for a lot of folks.”
Not only does Lackey say the sports complex is needed, but it will also benefit the local economy.
“Rockrose development owns the periphery of all that property out there and then there’s other owners that own property to the north,” Lackey added. “That’s all going to get developed and there’s going to be shops and restaurants and hotels, and tax dollars that are going to come into the city every day.”
When asked what drives him to push Kids, Inc. forward, Lackey recalled what youth sports meant to him, saying, “I literally had a lifelong relationship with my very first youth coach. I go back to that opportunity that adults have with these kiddos to play a big role in their lives and be a mentor to them that helps guide and shape who they are, and it’s extremely important.”
But to Lackey, the complex is bigger than youth sports, as they partner with several sports communities and institutions like Amarillo College and West Texas A&M University.
The revived AC Badgers baseball team will have a permanent practice field at the outdoor complex.
In phase two, WT will have an indoor track and field complex inside. Kids, Inc. and officials from WTAMU Athletics are currently designing an indoor facility to include an indoor track, as well as basketball and volleyball courts.
“To have those universities involved and expose young people to the idea that, ‘Maybe I can go play at Amarillo college. Maybe I can go play at West Texas A&M someday,’ or maybe just the fact that they’ve never even been introduced to the idea of higher education,” Lackey said.