Apopka’s Northwest Recreation Complex to Add New Shade Structures

Watching baseball games at Apopka’s Northwest Recreation Complex is about to get a lot cooler with the addition of new shade structures.

The Apopka City Council on Wednesday afternoon approved the nearly $65,000 purchase of 16 shade structures to improve the 182-acre venue at 3710 Jason Dwelley Parkway. Construction could begin within a few weeks and wrap up two months afterward.

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The Northwest Recreation Complex is among the best amateur sports destinations in the Southeast, hosting large competitions 45 weeks out of the year while also hosting city youth and adult recreation programs, sports training and even large special events like the annual Old Florida Outdoor Festival. Facilities include 28 sports fields as well as basketball, tennis and sand volleyball courts and a 1,300-seat outdoor amphitheater.

The shade structures will cover bleacher seating around eight different little league and softball fields on the east side of the complex. The structures also will be large enough to accommodate wheelchairs at each location. Construction is scheduled to not interfere with planned ball games.

“I think any amenity that you can add to continually improve this facility is a big benefit,” said Apopka City Commissioner and Vice Mayor Bill Arrowsmith. “I know a lot of people bring their own shade, but that isn’t always convenient.”

Each structure will be mounted on large, 12-feet-tall poles and span 220 square feet with high-density polyethylene material to shade the hot sun rays. The covers can be taken down quickly in case of severe weather. Different colors of canopies will help to identify different areas of the Recreation Complex.

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Events throughout the year draw tens of thousands of people from around the country to Apopka – a big source of area tourism and economic impact for local restaurants, stores and other businesses. Some sports tournaments are so large that city staff often will notify area restaurants to prepare for the incoming visitors.

Arrowsmith said Apopka should continue to look at other improvements that make the Northwest Recreation Complex even better: “I’d support some type of design for improved restroom facilities.”

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