A 1% increase in income tax has been implemented for businesses near I-49 in order to fund the new Natchitoches sports park being built on University Parkway. 40% of the revenue from the tax will be shared with Northwestern State University.
Specifically, the revenue will be going to NSU’s athletic department. Greg Burke, director of athletics, said similar arrangements have been going on in other college towns. When the city decided to build the new park, the opportunity to include the university arose.
“With athletics, we host over 150 events and functions every year,” Burke said.
All of these events bring visitors not just to NSU but to Natchitoches in general.
“There are many positives that the athletic program brings to this university and this community,” Burke said. “One of the biggest is economic impact.”
The athletics department has to bid money to be able to host each athletic championship event at NSU. Burke said the revenue from the sales tax will not only sustain what the athletics department is already doing but also enhance the way they are able to help drive the economic impact in Natchitoches.
Although there are currently no plans for the athletic department hold its own events in the park, Mayor Lee Posey said NSU intramurals will be using the facility.
“If it helps Northwestern State University have a better intramural facility, we had no problem with that,” Posey said. “The more people using it, the better investment.”
Posey said even communities smaller than Natchitoches have seen an impact from bringing in similar sports parks. When visitors come to town to support an event, whether the event is held at NSU or the new park, they will end up supporting local businesses as well.
“These people come to town, stay in your hotels or eat in your restaurants, hopefully do a little shopping,” Posey said. “The economic impact for hosting these weekend tournaments is huge.”
Construction on the Natchitoches sports park is expected to be finished in early January of 2020 with events being scheduled for February 2020.