"It's my passion to work with kids, and to give back to the community. I want to give kids the opportunity to be successful, and to create an environment where they can thrive."
And so Ricky Proehl, a 17-year veteran of the NFL, decided to build Proehlific Park, a 20-acre youth sports complex that will feature an indoor facility totaling over 70,000 square feet that will house three basketball/volleyball courts, seven batting cages, a 70-yard indoor field, and an academic success center with a computer lab. Proehlific Park will also be home to three football/soccer/lacrosse fields, three baseball/softball fields, a concession stand, and a playground.
Clemmons, North Carolina-based Davie Construction Co. broke ground on the project in June 2007. Work began on the building pad first, which was followed by grading and balancing the site for the playing fields. Brad Chapman, project manager with Davie Construction, explains that a slope on the site resulted in a big elevation difference. This required the construction of two retaining walls, one 19 feet tall and the other 17 feet tall, in order to level the site for the fields.
"We had a balanced site, but we ended up with more fill for one of the fields," says Chapman. "We actually brought this field up higher than the plans (indicated). Overall it ended up working better."
Grading contractor Hennings Construction Company out of East Bend, N.C., moved over 50,000 cubic yards of dirt on the project.
Chapman explains that there was a lot of utility work on the project. Fuller Contracting, Mocksville, N.C., relocated and installed several fire hydrants and installed 600 feet of 6-inch water line on one end of the property.
All of the fields feature extensive irrigation and field lighting, and Chapman points out that it has been a challenge to ensure that "no one is cutting another's lines and everything is marked adequately."
The indoor facility is a Nucor pre-engineered metal building with only one interior set of columns. There is a 132-foot span over the indoor soccer field, and a 152-foot span over the office area and two of the basketball courts, which are side by side. There is 26 feet of clear height to accommodate indoor activities.
Ricky Proehl has been a hands-on owner whose plans early-on were "to create a place where kids could play without pressure. Being here in Greensboro and being fortunate to help coach some of the youth organizations here in town, I started to realize how much of a need there was for field space whether it's court space, basketball, baseball, or soccer.
"We're getting away from what's important — allowing kids to feel like they can just go play for the fun of the sport. To me that's where you learn as an athlete is through free play. There just aren't enough playgrounds and backyards where kids can just go play with their friends."
By April of this year, young athletes of all ability levels will have just that.