Campaign kicks off for event center at Harford's Cedar Lane Park

Harford County officials and local sports leaders Thursday kicked off the fundraising campaign to build an event center at Cedar Lane Regional Park, which they said could be an economic boost for the area.

John McHugh, executive director of the park southeast of Bel Air, said the center will host the Maryland State Cup of the Youth Soccer Association, which will bring in families from around the region.

"The economic impact of that one event will probably double what we do here," McHugh said, explaining Cedar Lane is competing with other facilities for similar events.

"Everything is very competitive," he said. "As we get other events, other facilities compete with us."

The Cedar Lane Sports Foundation and Greater Bel Air Community Foundation are holding a Buy a Brick Campaign to help to raise the $200,000 needed to build the events center.

People can buy a 4-by-8-inch or 8-by-8-inch brick with up to three lines of engraving.

McHugh said the bricks will serve as a promenade leading up to the center, which will be near the park's entrance, by the corner of a sports field.

Harford County Executive David Craig said the county wants to improve the park, possibly with another artificial field, to attract other events there. He said the events center building will hopefully include things like a concession stand and water stands.

"This has really been a great week in Harford County when it comes to taking care of children, and giving them great things to do," Craig said, mentioning a new youth development park to be built in Aberdeen by the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, a project Cal Ripken Jr. announced Monday evening.

Craig said the county has spent about $4 million to create the Cedar Lane facility, which the government owns but and has an agreement with the nonprofit foundation to operate it.

"We need new field attendants, we need a new building," he said.

Bill Cox, president of the Greater Bel Air Community Foundation, said the organization is a great group of dedicated people, one that has contributed to a number of high profile Harford rec facilities.

"It's a team effort that we have done, a cooperative effort," he said. "A team effort makes things happen."

Phil Tirabassi, of the Cedar Lane Sports Foundation, said conscription into the military and jury duty are just about the only other times an individual can serve the government and community in the way representatives of the sports foundations are doing.

He said the regional soccer championships to be hosted at Cedar Lane are expected to bring in about $20 million each week.

Additional information on the capital campaign is available on the Greater Bel Air Community Foundation website,

Cedar Lane, opened in 2008, hosts local, regional and national sporting events, as well as sports leagues. Overall, the park had 282,580 visitors in 2011, McHugh said in an earlier interview.

In November, the county announced that the Baltimore Bohemians, a new minor league professional soccer team, will call Cedar Lane its home for the upcoming season. The "Bohs," as the team will be called, will be a member of the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League, one of the nation's top organizations for the advancement and evolution of young soccer players.

Aegis reporter Kayla Bawroski contributed to this article.

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