SPARTA – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today, joined by state and local officials, business leaders and sportsmen from across the nation, opened the long-anticipated World Shooting and Recreational Complex (WSRC) in Sparta. The newly constructed, state-of-the-art facility will become an economic boon for Southwestern Illinois, bringing more than 250 new jobs to the region, and hundreds of thousands of visitors to the state.
The Sparta World Shooting and Recreational Complex is hosting the first ever U.S. Open Trapshooting Championships starting today. The event, organized by the Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA), is expected to draw nearly 1,000 participants who will compete for four days in July for $10,000 in prize money and trophies. The U.S. Open Trapshooting Championship is the first of three major shooting events taking place at the complex this year.
“Our investment in this world class complex will pay off in a big way not only in Southwestern Illinois, but across the state,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “After years of planning and hard work, this complex is the premiere shooting facility in the nation. But, it’s much more than a shooting complex. It has first class meeting and banquet facilities, a full-service restaurant, and a campground for families to enjoy. And, when families come to the World Shooting Complex, they’ll also be able to enjoy all that Southwestern Illinois has to offer – including its history, golf courses, wineries and state parks.”
“We have a great facility for sportsmen and shooting enthusiasts and I look forward to it being a magnet for tourism and economic growth in southern Illinois,” State Rep. Dan Reitz (D-Sparta) said. “This complex and the events that will take place here will provide the opportunity to bring in people from all over the country to showcase our region.”
“This world-class facility will provide a great boost to the economy in Southern Illinois,” said State Sen. Dave Luechtefeld (R-Okawville). “I’m excited for Sparta, and look forward to the additional development the complex will bring for the entire area.”
“This facility will hopefully provide a big boost to Southern Illinois tourism as it draws sportsmen and shooting enthusiasts from all over the country,” State Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg) said. “In-state and out-of-state visitors alike will travel through other areas of Southern Illinois where they will contribute to the local economy by buying gas and food and staying in hotels and campgrounds. This is a great opportunity for our region and I am proud to have helped make this facility possible.”
"The opening of the Sparta Shooting Complex is a great boost not just for the local economy, but for all of Southern Illinois," said State Sen. Gary Forby (D-Benson). "It certainly takes its place among the great things to do and see in our part of the state and I'm pleased to have been able to help make it a reality."
The 1,600-acre WSRC will feature: 250 acres of water; 120 trap fields extending 3.5 miles; two sporting clay courses; a Cowboy Action Shooting corral; permanent exhibition building; 746 RV campsites with electric, water, and sanitary services, and an additional 264 sites with electrical service, providing potential for camping jamborees; a multi-purpose recreational facility; gift shop; and full service restaurant and lounge. It’s also expected to quickly become a premiere meeting, exhibit, banquet and reception space in Southwestern Illinois.
The 34,000-square-foot events center includes a 4,700-square-foot concession area, which will house a 1,250-square-foot full service restaurant, a 950-square-foot lounge and a 2,250-square-foot dining room, which will be used during larger events. In May, Ned Kelly’s of Bloomington, Inc. was awarded the contract to supply food and beverages to the WSRC. The Bloomington, Illinois-based restaurant will operate its WSRC facility under the name “Heartland Range.”
In January 2004, Gov. Blagojevich announced an agreement with the Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA) to make Illinois the new home of the Grand American competition. The state welcomed the nation’s largest outdoor shooting tournament to the WSRC after the ATA, the governing board for clay target shooting in the United States, decided to relocate its headquarters from its former home in Vandalia, Ohio, after more than 80 years. This decision was made after plans were announced to expand the Dayton International Airport in Ohio, which would have altered the grounds where the Grand American was held.
The Grand American is said to attract nearly 7,000 shooters during the course of the 10-day event. The facility will also host two other annual ATA shooting events – the U.S. Open, the precursor event for the Grand American being held in August, and a fall shoot being held in October.
“This complex will be a huge economic draw for this area. Activity at the site will generate new revenues for the state with hotel and motel fees, dining, and a variety of other tourist activities,” said Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Acting Director Sam Flood. “Over three million dollars in revenues have already been committed this year from camping and vending fees alone.”
“The City of Sparta and Randolph County are excited about the future opportunities for our area, due to the World Shooting and Recreational Complex opening. This Complex will not only create new jobs and increase tax revenue, but will also make Sparta the destination for thousands of people. This entire area looks forward to an exciting and prosperous future,” said Mayor Randy Bertetto, City of Sparta.
The IDNR is the state agency that will oversee the WSRC. A General Manager for the complex has not been named. IDNR Special Events Coordinator Bob Ruff will serve as acting General Manager in the interim.
Construction of the WSRC was approved by Gov. Blagojevich in 2003. Ground on the complex was broken in fall 2004, and took approximately 16 months to be completed. Costs for the project will total approximately $50 million. The state’s Capital Development Board (CDB) provided $31.5 million in capital funding to secure the project, and also managed the construction of the WSRC. The Illinois Department of Transportation reallocated $10 million for road improvements in the area. And $8 million in local bonds for water and sewer improvements will be repaid to the City of Sparta over the next 20 years.
WSRC Fact Sheet
- 1,600+ acres including 250 acres of water
- 120 trap fields extending 3.5 miles
- Two sporting clay courses
- Cowboy Action Shooting corral
- Permanent exhibitor building
- 746 RV campsites with electric, water, and sanitary services, and an additional 264 sites with electrical service, providing potential for camping jamborees
- Multi-purpose, multi-use recreational facility
- Gift shop and full service restaurant