JACKSON – Alan Nau, the owner of Trophy Park, expects the athletic complex that is planned for development on Route 537 in Jackson to be a global attraction and not just a regional or national destination.
Trophy Park is planned for construction on a 194-acre parcel at Route 537 and Hawkin Road. The Jackson Planning Board has approved a General Development Plan for the project. Specific aspects of Trophy Park will require additional hearings and site plan approval.
Trophy Park, an indoor and outdoor complex, is expected to include baseball and softball fields, batting cages, lacrosse, soccer and field hockey fields, practice fields, a 400,000-square-foot, two-story, 18-court indoor facility for basketball, volleyball, cheerleading and wrestling, and an outdoor stadium with 6,000 seats. The fields will be synthetic turf.
Trophy Park is also planned include three restaurants, retail space, hotels and team suites. Athletes who attend camps and tournaments at Trophy Park will stay in the team suites. Their parents may stay in the hotels on the property.
Nau said the project will generate construction jobs, and part-time and full-time jobs once Trophy Park opens. He likened the project to Cooperstown, N.Y., which in addition to serving as the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum also hosts baseball tournaments.
“Our whole facility is basically just for tournaments. That is why we had to have the team suites, because the kids will come, stay for a week and compete. It is kind of like Cooperstown in a way, but Cooperstown is just baseball and we are doing every sport,” Nau said.
“Manchester United, Manchester City, Barcelona, Cagliari … they all want to send their youth (soccer) teams here to compete against American youth teams. They are all excited about it,” Nau said.
“You have tournaments all over the place, but they do not have, and this is why I decided to build this place, they do not have a place where you can go, the kids can all stay together with the camaraderie. Even if you go to Disney they do not stay together, you have to stay with your parents in a hotel room, so you do not have the camaraderie by keeping the teams together,” Nau said.
He said the Six Flags Great Adventure theme park nearby on Route 537 in Jackson is another selling point of Trophy Park, giving the athletes, their parents and siblings a place to visit while they are in the area.
Nau said other points of interest would be New York City, Atlantic City and Philadelphia. He said those destinations would help to attract teams from Europe.
Nau said Bobby Valentine, a former manager of the Texas Rangers, New York Mets and Boston Red Sox, would be involved with Trophy Park.
“He has the Bobby Valentine Sports Academy and all the kids will be from Asia. They all are excited about coming over and playing baseball. So we are attracting people from all over the world,” Nau said. “I have AAU tournaments for basketball. I have wrestling and cheerleading. We are in good shape. I just have to get the damn thing built.”
Nau said Trophy Park could have a soft opening in 2020. He said there are still municipal approvals needed from Jackson.
The Route 537 corridor in Jackson is also the location of Jackson Adventure Crossing, a recreation facility under construction between Interstate 195 and Great Adventure. Jackson Adventure Crossing includes two hotels.
Nau said Jackson Adventure Crossing would be another destination for guests who are staying at Trophy Park.
“We are two completely different business plans. I do not have all the things (developer Vito Cardinale) is putting in, but there is an old saying which says a rising tide floats all boats,” Nau said of the commercial development in Jackson.
Nau said individuals who are pursuing careers in sports management and marketing could find employment at Trophy Park.
“We can fill so many of the (positions) they need for their internships because there are just not enough places around where (universities) can put these kids. The colleges are all happy about us being able to provide places for the students and when they (complete) their internships there will be jobs there for them,” he said.