WILMINGTON — More than a decade ago, parents and coaches approached the City of Wilmington, asking for help managing a sports complex they began operating on an old landfill.
There weren’t enough fields in town, they told city leaders, and council pitched in to help maintain it.
Cape Fear Regional Soccer Park will soon get transformed into a major regional sports complex, now with the added boost of a $1.3 million sponsorship from nCino. “This is a tremendous journey,” Mayor Bill Saffo said at Tuesday evening’s council meeting.
Funding for the park was already set aside as part of a 2016 parks bond, approved by over a 70% of voters, Saffo said. The original plan was to provide five to seven fields for local youth sports, with $10 million budgeted.
Located near the Duke Energy Sutton Steam Plant, the 64-acre soccer park currently has four natural turf fields and one synthetic turf field. With the corporate sponsorship now in place, the city plans to incorporate 11 fields in total, including one central, lighted synthetic turf field to accommodate evening games. The project is currently at 60% design and is about $62,000 short for financing the synthetic turf field. Regardless of whether this figure increases or decreases, the city is now obligated to build the synthetic turf field per its agreement with nCino.
“This is going to be one of the largest sports complexes in the entire state of North Carolina,” Saffo said.
The Wilmington Hammerheads Youth Football Program gave the city the land in 2019 as part of a 17-year management agreement; the city and program currently split revenue generated by the fields for hosting events while the city funds the maintenance and the program oversees complex operations.
nCino will pay the city $125,000 over a 10-year period for the title sponsorship. The company will also pitch in an additional $50,000 to offset the cost of signage, estimated at around $155,000. Colors featured in the park and in any promotional materials will coincide with nCino’s corporate branding, per the agreement. For at least 17 years, the park will be named “nCino Sports Park.”
“I think this is [a] historic day for the city,” Amy Beatty, the city’s director of community services, said at the meeting. “We’ve not had any type of private sponsorship of a public park project like this to date.”
Jonathan Rowe, nCino’s chief marketing officer, told council the city is integral to the company’s identity. After starting in 2012 with around a dozen team members, nCino has grown to expand to eight countries and 1,200 total employees — with 800 based in the Wilmington region.
“I can’t think of a greater collaboration,” Rowe said.
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