Paducah Sports Park

Objective - Paducah Sports Park - Outdoor 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 a 2022 and 2023 City Commission priority item. For 2024, it is an item for Continuous Improvement.

Paducah Sports Park 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 

Paducah Sports Park Principles and Economic Impact 

Since 2021, the project has included research and analysis, stakeholder engagement, and master planning.

The Paducah Sports Park has the following principles

  • Become a regional destination for athletic tournament play.
  • Provide high quality athletic experiences for the local community.
  • Further develop the unique brand and identity of Paducah and McCracken County.

With an expectation of holding approximately 42 tournaments per year, the McCracken County Sports Tourism Commission estimates that the facility could generate a local economic impact of $131 million in its first five years of use.

Paducah Sports Park Design Elements

At the January 9, 2024, meeting of the Paducah Board of Commissioners, Jim Dudley with McCracken County Sports Tourism Commission and Architect Jeff Canter with Peck Flannery Gream Warren provided an update on the outdoor sports complex, the Paducah Sports Park.

Watch the Presentation (January 9, 2024)

Location - the former Bluegrass Downs site and a portion of Stuart Nelson Park

Construction Time and Opening - After the bidding process and an approximate 12 month construction time, the facility will open in 2025. 

Fields - The design includes five rectangular fields and five diamond-shaped fields that can be configured in a variety of ways and sizes. These multi-use, synthetic turf fields can incorporate soccer, baseball, softball, rugby, or football.

Grandstand - The Paducah Sports Park also will use the former Bluegrass Downs grandstand next to the championship field. The grandstand will have an indoor concourse area and concessions along with dining and retail space. The grandstand can hold approximately 900 to 1000 people. Electrical conduits are included to allow the possibility of concerts on the championship field.  

Parking - The Bluegrass Downs side of the park will contain 682 paved parking spaces, and Stuart Nelson will have 535 parking spaces. Counting overflow parking on gravel or grass and the permanent paved spaces, the total number of parking spaces is 1740.

Other Design Features - Additional elements include a memorial to Dr. Stuart Nelson, shelter and restroom facilities, picnic and playground areas, pickleball and basketball areas, and 10 buildings including the grandstand.

Disc Golf Course - The Disc Golf Course currently at Stuart Nelson Park will see a reconfiguration since the Paducah Sports Park will be using some of the disc golf space. Three holes will be relocated.

Accomplishments - 2021 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.

Watch the Interlocal Cooperation Agreement Signing (September 7, 2022)

  • 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.
  • 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 (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.  

Watch the Presentation (March 28, 2023)

  • 2024 (Paducah Sports Park - 95% Construction Documents Milestone) - On January 9 and 10, 2024, Jim Dudley with McCracken County Sports Tourism Commission and Architect Jeff Canter with Peck Flannery Gream Warren provided an update on the outdoor sports complex, the Paducah Sports Park, to the Paducah City Commission and McCracken County Fiscal Court. Based on the interlocal agreement, the City Commission and Fiscal Court have 20 days to approve the release of the documents to bid. Both government entities approved the design documents at their next meetings (County - January 22 and City - January 23). Canter said the construction documents are 95% complete. Once the documents are in final form, the project will be placed out to bid for construction. After a one year construction period, the goal is for the facility to open in 2025. At this time, the estimated cost of the facility’s construction is $65 million. However, the actual cost will not be known until bids are received and reviewed. Read the Meeting Summary (January 9, 2024)

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 three 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.

Dog Parks Relocation Project

Dog park siteWhy Relocate the Dog Parks?  This project relocates the current dog parks at Stuart Nelson Park to Noble Park since the Paducah Sports Park will use a portion of Stuart Nelson Park.

Location and Project Scope  On February 28, 2023, 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 (shown in green on the map with the new pickleball courts in blue). 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. In addition to the dog parks, this project will include roadway improvements into that section of Noble Park, paved parking areas, and pedestal water fountains.

The intention is to have the new dog parks open prior to the closing of the Stuart Nelson Park dog parks. McCracken County will fund a portion of the dog park relocation project based upon the interlocal agreement approved in 2022.

Contractor  On November 28, 2023, the Board approved a contract with Evrard Company, Inc. for the construction of dog parks and roadway improvements in Noble Park. The Notice to Proceed was issued December 7 and crews mobilized December 15, 2023. At its January 23, 2024, meeting the City Commission approved a contract extension of 30 days to Evrard. This extension is due to weather and shelter manufacturing delays. 

Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting  The City of Paducah held a ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony for the Noble Park Dog Parks on May 14, 2024. The new parks are located adjacent to the Anna Baumer Building and Shelter 17 behind the amphitheatre. The dog parks are open seven days a week from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. in the summer season (April – October) and from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. in the winter season (November – March). The project includes a new access road and the construction of two dog parks that are partitioned based upon the weight of a dog with 30 pounds as the general dividing weight. The dog parks are similar in size to the ones at Stuart Nelson Park and include water fountains, fencing with vestibule entries, shelters, lighting, pet waste receptacles, and paved accessible parking areas. Portable restrooms are onsite. 

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 and expectations by visiting Commission Priorities.