the Northwest Indiana Croquet Association (NICA) approached the Porter
County Park Board at its meeting last night to propose building a four-court
championship class croquet complex at Sunset Hill Farm Park.
representing NICA, said the group could have the court built and seeded by
Labor Day, and players could use it as early as this time next year. “This
isn’t something that’s off in the distant hereafter.” He is confident the
organization will achieve 501c3 charitable status and raise the money for
construction and upkeep on the complex. Sawyier said the County would have
no financial responsibility.
For the details of
the project, Sawyier ceded the floor to Russ Dilley, Regional Vice-president
for the United States Croquet Association. Dilley spoke to the value of
croquet and gave a thorough cost breakdown for the initial buildout,
maintenance, labor, and equipment needed to construct and operate the
complex. “Croquet has been a significant part of this country’s athletic
history for more than 100 years,” he began.
Dilley went on to
say that a facility of the caliber he is proposing could host national
championship tournaments. The nearest comparable facility is in Milwaukee.
Dilley, the complex--with four lawns where games could take place
simultaneously--would require about an acre of land and cost about $95,000
to build and outfit with equipment. Upkeep on the court, including mowing
the lawns to meet game standards, watering every other day, and the cost of
labor, is estimated to cost $6,500 a season.
The complex would
need 20 to 25 sprinkler heads, which would use 50,000 gallons of water every
other day, to properly water the lawns. Included in the initial cost is a
greens mower, which Dilley said can be had used and in decent shape for
about $10,000. He also budgeted for the purchase of top quality Dawson
croquet balls-- to the tune of $550 per four. “They last forever,” he said.
estimates do not factor in the cost of a clubhouse, which is required and
must have certain amenities for hosting national tournaments. Sawyier
suggested that one of the unused houses at the park could be put to use as
“We have donors
lined up. We have things in place. We would have the money every year from
donations and membership to maintain it,” said Nate Cobbs, Chesterton Town
Council member and a leader of the newly formed group, emphasizing that the
endeavor would be self-funded. All the group requires from the Park Board,
according to Sawyier, is approval to use the land and a long-term lease on
it. Sawyier said he hopes the fee for the lease would be “nominal.”
David Hollenbeck asked what kind of a spectator sport croquet is. Dilley
responded that the court would easily accommodate 200 to 300 people
watching. “It’s easy to come watch. It’s very watchable. It’s very
accessible,” he said.
“What I would be
concerned about is making sure the public could use it and learn to use it,”
said Board President Craig Kenworthy. Kenworthy asked if the group would be
willing to give back, for example, by hosting programs for kids and elderly
adults. “Clearly a major part of this project is going to be going into
residential areas, going to the universities, going here and there promoting
this activity,” Dilley responded. “People come out of the woodwork when you
mention this sport. We’d be crazy not to try to generate public interest.”
The Board opted to
have its building and land acquisition committee further investigate the
details of the proposal. Hollenbeck made a point to say that this isn’t a
disregard for the group’s timeline. “That’s the way this body makes progress
meeting will be held on a yet to be determined date and open to the public.