KOKOMO, Ind. – Henke Development Group, the developer of Grand Park Sports Complex in Westfield, is planning an estimated $77 million investment on the city’s East side near US 31. The project would develop 16 out lots on land directly east of Darrough Chapel Park. The development would include new business, office, retail and restaurant space along with new hotels.

In addition to the private commercial development, an estimated $9 million development by the City of Kokomo would create eight new multi-purpose fields – four high school-sized and four youth league-sized at Darrough Chapel Park. The artificial turf fields would be arranged in two quad-plex, diamond-shaped setups with concessions and other amenities in the middle. Parts of Darrough Chapel Park would remain intact including the Veteran’s Memorial, located near the entrance of the park.

“This will be a tremendous asset for our local sports programs,” said Mayor Greg Goodnight. “From baseball to softball, a facility of this kind will create opportunities for the youth in the community. This also will bring an influx of visitors to Kokomo each weekend during tournament season.”

Besides Grand Park, the premier facility of its kind in Indiana, the Henke Development Group also developed The Club at Chatham Hills, a residential golf course community. CEO Steve Henke sees Kokomo has a natural fit for this kind of development.

“Henke Development is excited to bring a championship-level project to the City of Kokomo, The Championship Park of Kokomo,” said Henke. “This mixed-use development will incorporate the highest-quality turf softball and baseball fields for all levels from little league to high school. 

“This athletic complex will be coupled with premium commercial development sites which will include retail, hospitality, offices and many other quality tax-generating businesses for the City.  Our goal is not only to provide a premier youth sports and commercial destination, but it will also be a place for the residents of Kokomo to be proud of.”

The addition of the multi-purpose fields would change the face of local sports, including youth baseball and softball programs, according to former Major League baseball player and Kokomo native Joe Thatcher.

“Championship Park will be a positive for the baseball community in Kokomo,” Thatcher said. “A facility of this size and quality will allow the development of softball and baseball programs locally to excel to levels they’ve never seen.”

According to city officials, site development is scheduled to begin later this year.

Courtesy of the City of Kokomo

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Kokomo Jackrabbits first baseman Ben Livorsi waits for the throw. (SJ photo/William Gibson)


KOKOMO, Ind. – The Kokomo Jackrabbits hit a dry spell and have lost the lead in the Great Lakes East Division during the clubs inaugural Northwoods League campaign. After leading the division for nearly two weeks, the Jackrabbits are in a tail-spin, having lost a team record-tying six consecutive games through June 30. The six losses match a losing streak during nearly the same time period in 2015.

After losing the first four games of the week, Kokomo looked to right the ship with a pair of home contests against Kalamazoo last weekend. But the Rabbits could not get the tide to turn as Kalamazoo cranked out a combined 22 runs and 31 hits in the two games, winning 12-2 and 10-5. It marked the third straight game Kokomo’s opponents had reached double-digits in scoring.

Despite lowering ticket prices, Jackrabbits attendance is still down 34-percent through the first 18 games compared to the same timeframe in 2018. But that is an improvement from when the front office announced the ticket price drop – at that time, attendance was down 46.3-percent. While Game 13 was the 15th largest home crowd in team history (2,184), Game 14 was the eighth smallest (635) and Game 18 was the third smallest (542).

Kokomo’s average of 921 fans per game is ranked 16th in the Northwoods League – Madison leads the league with an average of 5,932 while LaCrosse is second at 2,689. Interestingly, if Kokomo were still in the Prospect League, they would be fifth in the league in average attendance.

The Jackrabbits (15-17) have fallen to fourth place and are five games behind division leader and red-hot Traverse City (21-13), which has won nine consecutive games. Kokomo returns to the friendly confines of Municipal Stadium for America Night on July 3 – Fireworks will follow the 7:05 p.m. game against the Madison Mallards. Both teams will return to the field for a 1:05 p.m. Fourth of July matinee.

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Troy White

Kokomo High School girls varsity basketball coach Troy White abruptly resigned on June 25 after two seasons. He departs the Lady Wildkats program with a 9-37 record, which included a 3-20 campaign last year.

The Kokomo School Corporation released the following story.

Because of the support by the community, by his fellow coaches, by the Kokomo High School administration, by the Kokomo School Corporation administration, and by his Lady Wildkat players … the decision to “retire/resign” from his “dream coaching position” as Kokomo’s Varsity Girls’ Basketball Coach after only two seasons became “one of the most difficult decisions of my life” for Troy White.

“This was totally my decision; but after much deliberation and thought, I believe I need, actually I must, spend more time with my family and friends … but especially my family,” Coach White explained. “During my two years of coaching girls’ basketball, I lost some family members as well as my dear friend Phil Cox … all of which made me realize how much I wanted more family time. I shared with our Athletic Director Nick Sale that after coaching 22 years for Kokomo Schools, I might eventually get bored and want to help in the future; but right now, I want my holidays and weekends with my family and friends. Plus, I enjoy fishing with my Dad and this decision will allow me more time to fish with Dad.”

Kokomo High School Athletic Director Nick Sale thanked Coach White for his time and energy.

“I truly believe that Troy’s leadership and passion for girls’ basketball will lead to outstanding things in the future. Troy created a solid foundation,” Mr. Sale said. “Coach White has represented Kokomo High School with utmost professionalism. From how he respected his players to how he involved his student athletes in our community, Coach White made a positive impact on every student or adult involved in girls’ basketball.”

KHS Principal Angela Blessing cited Mr. White as a valuable member of the Wildkat team.

“His coaching presence will be a great loss to Kokomo High School,” Mrs. Blessing said. “I am glad Troy will still be teaching at Kokomo because Coach White is a man of integrity.  I believe Troy has rekindled the Lady Wildkat Way in girls’ basketball. Kokomo High School will be forever grateful for the rebuilding Coach White has done with our Lady Wildkat girls’ basketball program.”

For Coach White, the toughest part of the coaching departure was sharing his decision with his returning players.

“I will miss the day-to-day fellowship I have established with our players,” Coach White said. “I believe we have a great group of young players who are excited about playing basketball. I will look forward to watching the program grow since I will never stop loving my city or my school.”

The 1985 KHS graduate – a product of Sycamore Elementary, Bon Air Middle School, Haworth High School, and Kokomo High School – noted in his letter of “retirement/resignation” that “I have been honored to represent my school and my city for the past two seasons.”

Director of Human Resources (Classified) and Operations Mike Wade noted that he admired Coach White’s passion for the girls’ basketball program.

“All who worked with Troy, were blessed by experiencing a genuine, great man,” Mr. Wade said. “Troy cares about the Wildkat Way and our student athletes. I wish Troy nothing but the best in his future, and I hope Troy is able to enjoy his family and all that life has to offer.”

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