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      North Myrtle Beach sports complex on schedule, dozens of events booked

      NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WPDE) - Construction of a new multimillion dollar park and sports complex in North Myrtle Beach is right on schedule. It's set to open March 1, 2014, and many events are already booked.

      Just off the Robert Edge Parkway exit on Highway 31, you can see the North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex coming to life.

      "All of the light posts are up. All of the fields have been sprayed with grass, and the grass is growing. We're into vertical construction of many of the buildings," said Pat Dowling, City of North Myrtle Beach spokesman.

      Even though it's not quite complete, there are already many events scheduled. That's good news for the city.

      "We've also secured 17 soccer, lacrosse events for 2014, and we've secured about 30 baseball, softball events. Which puts us well ahead of the projected economic impact the facility is supposed to have on the North Myrtle Beach economy for the first year. That economic impact was projected at about 10 million and we're already at about 14 million dollars," Dowling explained.

      For the last five years, city leaders have focused on growing sports tourism because it helps in the off season. As an added bonus, "a good number of them will come back just as general vacationers in the future, and somewhere down the road some may buy primary residences or second homes," said Dowling.

      The complex will also offer plenty for locals.

      "There's many walking trails. There's going to be an amphitheater in what's called a 12 acre meadow. There's going to be a veterans memorial where we'll be able to have veterans oriented ceremonies and events in the future," added Dowling.

      A 17 acre lake for activities is also a part of the design.

      The $15 million complex sits on 1,600 acres of land recently annexed into the city. The first event is set for May 2014.