Future RV park aims to serve Sussex youth sports visitors
GEORGETOWN — Sports tourism is booming, and established Sussex County developer Ken Adams has eyes set on building a RV and camping resort within minutes of two sports complexes in the middle of the county.
Earlier this month, Melvin L. Joseph Heirs Farm Account LLC received approval to develop a County Seat RV Resort with 304 RV camper sites and 46 cabins. The property, positioned on 74 acres along Route 9 and Sandhill Road, used to be the Georgetown Raceway where harness races were held in the 1970s. Stables remain on the land today.
The resort includes a pool, a baseball field, a basketball/pickleball court, and a multi-purpose field, according to plans submitted to Sussex County officials. In addition to 46 cabins with queen beds and bunk beds, there will also be “safari cabins,” or a wooden platform with a tent overtop it, so that visitors will have the amenities.
Adams, president of M.L. Joseph Construction Co., is the grandson of Melvin L. Joseph. Joseph started the business in 1940 by hauling dirt to poultry farms in southern Delaware. Eighty years later, the company is doing work at the rising Delaware Coastal Business Park, the Microtel in Milford as well as other major subdivisions.
County Seat RV Resort’s location represents an exciting opportunity for Sussex County as it sits within 2 miles of both Sports at the Beach and Sandhill Fields, two youth sports complexes. Youth sports travel is an estimated $19 billion industry, with parents making two- and three-day tournaments into small getaways for the entire family, resulting in hotel stays and meals at restaurants.
“When people think of Sussex County, often their first thoughts are the beaches and the inland bays. But there are many other destinations, and one is Sports at the Beach, which draws in 80,000 people to the county,” said David Hutt, the attorney representing the Melvin L. Joseph Heirs Farm Account. Hutt presented the application to the Sussex County Council on Nov. 17.
“When you see the number of hotels and other businesses that have sprung up in recent years along Route 113 on the eastern side of Georgetown, it can be directly linked to Sports at the Beach,” Hutt told the county council.
Per year, Sports at the Beach books roughly 35 tournaments at its 100-acre complex that has been open for 17 years. That is capacity to bring 65 teams in the spring and fall to Georgetown and 82 teams in the summer months. Athletes range from 7 to 20 years old, and all differ in lodging taste, according to Sports at the Beach manager Monica Bennett.
“That ranges from campgrounds because they’re less expensive and everyone can stay in one area, or cabins, because of the amenities. Some have homes in the area, while others opt to stay in an Airbnb,” she told Delaware Business Times. “I’ve heard rave reviews about Holly Lake campsites because of the petting zoo for the younger kids. But Massey’s Landing Campground gets rave reviews, because bathroom access in cabins is something people do look for.”
Room rentals may boom in the near future, as the $6.5 million Sandhill Fields opened in September. That 90-acre complex has eight fields for soccer, field hockey, lacrosse and a cross country course.
Hutt said that County Seat RV Resort can help serve as these tournament attendees’ introduction to what else Sussex County has to offer in agritourism. Tourism in Sussex County generated over $1.8 billion in direct sales in 2015, and every dollar spent generates $1.20 in economic activity for the local economy, according to the Sussex County Comprehensive Plan.
“As you move out from this property, there’s plenty more to see, with Dogfish Head having a large presence, and people fixing up barns for wineries, which has a significant role in the area,” Hutt said.
The Sussex County Council granted a conditional use for the resort on the 73-acre parcel on Nov. 17, striking the Planning Commission’s condition of quiet hours between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.
By Katie Tabeling