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Clay County Regional Sports Complex opens for tournament play in northeast Florida

A problem often occurring in northeast Florida is finding sports facilities not already leased to different recreation organizations.

Clay County Regional Sports Complex will be the first of its kind in the county and aims to eliminate this problem. A ribbon-cutting event held Friday marked the complex's official opening.

Located at 4790 Victory Lane in Middleburg, the complex will see a busy second weekend. On the official first weekend, the complex was supposed to host a lacrosse tournament, but it was moved from April 6 to a later date in June. This tournament is estimated to host around 1,400 college athletes across many teams.

The second weekend will host the Jacksonville Jaguars 2024 Regional Flag Football Tournament. The complex will host competitors ranging from ages 9 and under to 18 and under.

A total of eight multipurpose fields are available at Clay County's new complex. (Evan Andrews/WUFT News)

With a tournament already scheduled within the first two weekends, the complex will continue to host different tournaments. The biggest tournament will be hosted in December this year — the Collegiate Flag Football tournament — with around 45 teams.

The grounds of the complex sit on nearly 250 acres of land near Belmore State Forest. This project was split up into different phases, the first phase focused on rectangular fields.

Eight rectangular multipurpose fields were included in phase one that will host rectangular sports including: soccer, lacrosse, flag football, field hockey, spike ball and ultimate frisbee. The field usage will initially only be usable for tournaments but later in the future the plan is to open it to the public.

The county added two ponds within the grounds of the sports complex. (Evan Andrews/WUFT News)

Clay County Director of Tourism Kimberly Morgan believes that the focus of rectangular fields in phase one was strategic and smart.

“There is a great need for rectangular fields in the northeast parts of Florida,” Morgan said. “Most facilities that house rectangular fields are leased to local recreations which makes tournament play harder to accomplish.”

Morgan believes the economic growth that the complex will bring will positively affect Clay County. The Jaguars Regional Flag Football Tournament will bring hundreds of kids, not to mention the kid's parents into Clay County, thus providing evidence of its positive effect.

“I believe that Clay County will see a large number of people traveling for these tournaments that will be held at the complex,” Morgan said. “It will have a positive economic impact, but the sports tourist growth will also see an increase.”

The Clay County Regional Sports Complex has the opportunity to partner with the North Florida Land Trust to build trails that weave throughout the complex.

“Even though we are in the rural part of Clay County,” Morgan said. “Land is still hard to find, and it gets expensive.”

A state grant helped fund the sports complex, Morgan said.

This sports complex will allow more opportunities for the people of Clay County and Clay County in general. The complex will offer activities to do for locals, and the tournaments that will be hosted have the possibility to draw in crowds of people from south Florida and even Georgia.

Carlton Construction President Matt Carlton and his team brought phase one of the project’s design to life. Including the eight multipurpose fields, there are designated shade areas, restrooms, ponds and a trail woven through the park. Five of the eight multipurpose fields are lit, which offer tournaments to extend into the evening hours if necessary.

“Approximately 30,000-man hours went into the construction of this project,” Carlton said.

A sign at the front entrance of the Clay County Regional Sports Complex welcomes visitors. (Evan Andrews/WUFT News)
A sign at the front entrance of the Clay County Regional Sports Complex welcomes visitors. (Evan Andrews/WUFT News)

Evan is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing