NEW PORT RICHEY — Against the advice of one commissioner, the County Commission on Tuesday decided to spend $1.9 million to build two artificial lacrosse fields instead of five sod fields at the Wesley Chapel District Park.
Funding for the work will come from tourism development taxes, or bed taxes paid by hotels.
The work is meant to support athletic tournaments at the park, 7727 Boyette Road, including the biggest of those, the Dick's Sporting Goods Tournament of Champions held each December.
The county's tourist development office recommended the artificial fields after a study that showed they would result in less maintenance than grass fields.
Tourism Director Ed Caum said the grass fields need time to recuperate between games. That resting time can stretch longer after heavy rains and wreak havoc on tournament schedules.
Commissioners voted 4-1 for the artificial fields.
Commission Chairman Jack Mariano voted against the contract, however, noting that both the tournament organizers and the Wesley Chapel Athletic Association favored having more sod fields than fewer artificial turf fields.
"We are challenged by a lack of field space," Mariano said, reading from a letter by Tom Fitzsimmons, president of the Wesley Chapel Athletic Association.
Given the contract amount, Mariano said, the county could build five, or possibly six, sod fields for the price of two artificial fields.