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(Enlarge) The $2.6 million Youth Sports Complex renovations are 50 percent complete. Coaches and the Child, Youth and School Services Sports staff hope the new complex, which is expected to be finished in the fall, will bring more players into post sports programs. (Photo by Brandon Bieltz)

Sports are always in the air at Fort Meade.

The basketball season is in full flight and the spring sports season is preparing to gear up.

The spring sports teams will be displaced to Burba Lake, schools and other fields in the county to practice and play their games. The new Youth Sports Complex will soon bring all the teams back to one mega-sport spot.

The renovations at the complex are on schedule and are projected to be completed by the fall, said Bo Lepinsky, director of the Youth Sports and Fitness Program.

In the spring of 2010 the fields were shut down and large-scale renovations began to provide new fields for The Child, Youth and School Services Sports programs.

The project, which was allotted $2.6 million, is rejuvenating every field in the complex and adding new fields.

There is a long list of project improvements.

The football and baseball fields, which have lights and were constructed in a previous renovation, will be resodded and will receive new scoreboards.

New soccer, baseball and T-ball fields are also being added to the complex.

Seven soccer fields, four baseball fields and two T-ball fields will be constructed. The baseball fields are being built in a clover leaf shape and will have new fencing and new infields. The T-ball fields will be spread throughout the complex.

An underground watering system has been installed at the fields that will keep the grassy fields in shape throughout the year.

A maintenance and concession building is being constructed to house the watering equipment, bathrooms and will supply snacks for the weekend games.

Although the work has stopped due to the cold weather and frozen ground, construction is still on schedule and will restart once the ground thaws.

"The contractor said we're 50 percent done," Lepinsky said.

Rick Eden, who has coached football at Fort Meade since 2002, said the teams and coaches are looking forward to the completion of the complex.

"We are looking forward to playing an actual home game," Eden said. "Last year we played at Meade High School. It was OK but it isn't our home."

The well-used and worn out fields were in serious need of the renovations, Lepinsky said.

A project started in 1999 to work on some of the fields, including a baseball and football field.

Shortly after the fields were ready to be played on, the events of 9/11 halted the construction and the other fields were put on hold. The 2001 season's football games kicked off on Sept. 5. But following the 9/11 tragedy, focus shifted and cleats didn't dig into the field again for three years.

"Nothing has been done out there since 2001," Lepinsky said. "Those fields have basically been the way they were, except for the new baseball field and new football field, for 20 years."

CYS2 used the fields starting in 2004 in order to keep the sports programs running. Lepinsky and the staff tried to keep the field in good condition.

"We played on them and tried to protect them, but there was so much wear and tear," he said.

Lepinsky said the poor condition of the fields may have led to a decrease in the number of children competing in post sports programs.

"We took a hit sports wise," he said. "We were losing people."

He said recently there is a lot of buzz about the new fields. He is hopeful the work done at the fields, as well as new families moving to the area, will bring more young athletes.

"We're hoping with the new fields and [Base Realignment and Closure] coming in that our sports population will increase," he said.

Eden is also optimistic the renovated complex will get more youths into the sports programs.

"Hopefully, if kids see us practicing and playing games on Fort Meade, it will increase our numbers which is always a good thing when your trying to build your program," he said.

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