Continuous Improvement Item - Outdoor Sports Facilities

Objective - Sports Facilitiessports facilities icon

Partner with McCracken County and the McCracken Sports Tourism Commission in the design and construction of the outdoor recreational facilities at the former Bluegrass Downs site and Stuart Nelson Park.

Note: This was also a 2022 priority item. 

Key Departments

City Manager's Office
Parks & Recreation Department 

Outdoor Sports Facilities Details

Expectations and Tactics
  • Formalize equal partnerships (financial and participation)
  • Consider using portion of existing bond proceeds
  • Finalize an interlocal agreement
  • Design and construction Improvement of Stuart Nelson access roads and Bob Noble Park recreational fields
  • Honor historical heritage of Stuart Nelson Park 
Accomplishments - 2022 to present

Collaboration  City representative is attending monthly McCracken County Sports Tourism Commission meetings and the weekly design meetings. Sports Tourism has delegated facility design to a smaller workgroup, which meets with the contracted facility management company and the project architect on programmatic design. 

  • 2021 - On March 15, 2021, City and County representatives heard the Outdoor Sports Facility master plan presentation from local company, Peck Flannery Gream and Warren (PFGW), to learn about the proposed amenities and view the conceptual video (see below). 
  • 2021 - Paducah Board of Commissioners and the McCracken County Fiscal Court held a joint meeting on May 4, 2021, to discuss the proposed sports facility.  Slide Presentation from May 4, 2021 Meeting


  • 2021 - City and County held a joint meeting on June 24, 2021, and approved a motion to develop a memorandum of understanding for the City and County to pay $12.5 million each and bond the remaining capital costs from the McCracken County Sports Commission tourism tax and facility operating revenues. The City’s commitment is dependent upon the City/County collaboration on the 911 project.
  • 2021 - On August 10, 2021, City Commission approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) among the City, McCracken County Fiscal Court, and the McCracken County Sports Tourism Commission regarding the funding of the athletic complex. In the MOU, the City and County commit to be equal partners in financing the design, development, construction, operation, and maintenance cost for the facility.  Each government will provide $12.5 million toward the construction. The MOU also outlines how the remaining construction costs will be funded using City and County bonds, transient room tax funds, and the facility’s operating revenues. 
  • 2022 - On September 7, 2022, City and County held first readings of the interlocal cooperation agreement for the joint city/county sportsplex in August 2022 with the historic approval and signing of the agreement between the City, County, and McCracken County Sports Tourism Commission on September 7, 2022, during a community celebration with parents, coaches, and athletes.
  • 2022 - City Commission approved on October 11, 2022, naming the City Manager and the Parks & Recreation Department Director as the City of Paducah’s appointments to the Project Working Group as outlined in the Interlocal Cooperation Agreement.Dog park map
  • 2022 - Stakeholder meetings were held November 29 and 30. Representatives from the Design Team, Sports Facilities Company, Parks & Recreation, McCracken County, and the Sports Tourism Commission et with various stakeholders including school districts, youth soccer, baseball, softball, cross-country, disc golf, dog park users, pickleball, NAACP, and more to discuss needs, wants, and concerns for the facility.
  • 2023 (Dog Park Relocation) - On February 28, the City authorized relocating the dog parks at Stuart Nelson Park to Noble Park. After visiting site options, the City approved on March 28 moving the dog parks to an area adjacent to the Anna Baumer building and behind the amphitheater. MAP - The area shaded green in the location for the new dog parks. This area, which is similar in size to the current dog parks, has natural shade and open running space for dogs. Plus, it is secluded from Lake Montgomery and associated waterfowl. The next steps will be to complete the design and construction documents with the goal of opening the dog parks at Noble Park before the closure of the existing dog parks at Stuart Nelson Park. The access road into the area also will be improved due to the traffic increase. The blue square shows the site of new pickleball courts. The request for proposals to relocate the dog parks is expected to be issued in August 2023.
  • 2023 (Outdoor Sports Park) - Architect Jeff Canter with Peck Flannery Gream Warren provided an update on the outdoor sports complex on March 28. The project has included research and analysis, stakeholder engagement, and master planning. The schematic design includes five multi-use rectangular soccer fields, four multi-use diamond-shaped ball fields, and one championship diamond-shaped ball field which can incorporate a football or soccer field. There are approximately 1700 parking spaces with additional space for overflow parking. As of August 2023, the project is designed with construction documents being prepared. The expectation is for construction to begin late in 2023 and continue through 2024 with a spring 2025 opening. Project Update Presentation

Disc Golf Course  City is working with Technology Department and PFGW for project design which includes planning for the changes to the Disc Golf Course at Stuart Nelson Park since the Outdoor Sports Facility will use much of that park. City held a meeting with PFGW and the Chair of the local disc golf club to walk the disc golf course and discuss the relocation of a few disc golf holes.  

McCracken County Sports Tourism Commission 

  • Marketing - Purchased the domain, Greenway Sports Website, and developing the facility's branding.  Sports Commission is working on united marketing strategy for tournaments at the sports complex and Expo Center. Also, the team is working with the management company's marketing team to name the facility and develop a plan for naming rights.
  • Management - Sports Commission selected Sports Facilities Company (SFC) through a Request for Proposals process to facilitate the development/design and ongoing management of the complex.  The Sports Commission and SFC began meeting in September 2021. 
  • Engagement - The public provided input on the Recreation Facility's Master Plan on November 10, 2021. A copy of the master plan is linked below. The Design Team held stakeholder meetings on November 29-30, 2022.
  • Facility Design, Bidding, and Construction - The design of the outdoor sports complex is being facilitated by a smaller workgroup which meets with SFC. Contracts with PFGW and BFW for schematic and master planning design, as well as site work to keep the project moving forward were executed following the adoption of the interlocal cooperation agreement. The design, bidding, and construction phases will take a total of approximately 24 months with the facility projected to open in Spring 2025.

Stuart Nelson Park  Parks and Recreation Department is not accepting reservations for Stuart Nelson Park facilities beginning in August 2023 due to the anticipated construction timeline. The park will be closed to the public during the construction of the Outdoor Sports Facilities. The team also is working with the Paducah Historical Preservation Group on the design for the memorial plaza at the outdoor sports complex to honor Dr. Stuart Nelson.

Conceptual Video, Master Plan, and Website for Greenway Sports

Master Plan  In 2020, McCracken County received a donation from Harrahs Inc. and VICCI Inc. of more than 60 acres of land that formerly housed the Bluegrass Downs horse track complex.  The land will be developed into an athletic complex consisting of softball, baseball and soccer.

Read the Master Plan


Conceptual Video and Website  Video, launched in March 2021, shows how the former Bluegrass Downs and Stuart Nelson Park could be turned into an incredible outdoor sports facility with full-size soccer fields and baseball fields in addition to other amenities. The City and County are working with the McCracken County Sports Tourism Commission on this project that would make Paducah-McCracken County a sports destination.  

Greenway Sports Website  

Commission Priorities

Read all Commission Priorities and Continuous Improvement Items including each action item's objective, key departments, and expectations by visiting Commission Priorities.