SCARBOROUGH — A Massachusetts company has signed an agreement to design a sports complex for a proposed village center that’s being developed near the racetrack at Scarborough Downs.

The Edge Sports Group, a company specializing in recreational properties, has signed a letter of intent with the developers of The Downs, a $621 million residential, commercial and light-industrial project that’s under construction at the 500-acre harness-racing venue off Route 1 and the Maine Turnpike.

ESG is conducting a feasibility study to determine what amenities would be included at the complex, according to a written statement from The Downs developer Rocco Risbara. It could include swimming pools, ice rinks, indoor and outdoor playing fields, spectator areas and other activity spaces.

“This is particularly exciting for us because we’ve long known that our community wants these types of athletic and recreational amenities,” Risbara said.

The sports complex would anchor the downtown area that The Downs developers plan to build near the racetrack and grandstand, Risbara said. However, it wouldn’t disrupt or displace harness racing at Scarborough Downs, he said, and it could act as a catalyst to increase visitors to the track.

Exactly how the sports complex would be developed, built, owned and operated are details that must be negotiated before ESG finalizes a deal with The Downs, Risbara said, leaving open the possibility that the two companies could form some kind of partnership.


Risbara said the sports complex would be a private, for-profit, fee-based facility offering various types of memberships, such as individual, group, league and municipal.

“Our goal will be to make it as accessible and inclusive as possible,” said Risbara, whose family operates a construction company that is general contractor for The Downs project.

The sports complex would be built where Risbara suggested the town could build a community recreation center when his company was seeking a property tax break from the Town Council last year. Risbara said the complex could address a majority – but not necessarily all – of the town’s recreational and sports needs.

Town Manager Tom Hall said he’s pleased with the progress of The Downs project, especially the accelerated pace of nonresidential development.

“The involvement of the Edge Sports Group and the construction of a commercial recreation center could serve as a catalyst to anchor the downtown portion of the project,” Hall said in the statement. “We are eager to participate in the feasibility analysis and see if there is an opportunity for the project to meet the long-standing recreation needs of the community.”

Based in Bedford, Massachusetts, ESG has consulted on and developed several athletic venues and sports leagues throughout New England. The company aims to design “sports ecosystems” that meet the recreational goals of surrounding communities. It isn’t affiliated with The Edge Academy baseball training facility on Warren Avenue in Portland.


“Greater Portland is a growing region and is currently underserved in this capacity,” ESG President Brian DeVellis said. “We see a bright future for this type of athletic complex in Scarborough. We look forward to this process and plan to design something specific to the recreational needs of the community and the region.”

ESG intends to complete its feasibility study this summer, then move forward with the design and permitting process. The sports complex could open as early as spring 2021.

Sheila Brennan Nee, strategic director of the Maine Sports Commission, said the proposed sports complex at The Downs would complement the current regional inventory of athletic facilities and create the opportunity to bid on larger sports tournaments.

“The possible development of new fields and facilities in Scarborough will be exciting to watch as Maine continues advancing as a four-season sports destination,” Nee said. “More amenities better position Maine to attract event owners whose checklists include multiple fields or more than one sheet of ice on the same site or within close proximity when considering a proposal.”

Scarborough Downs was purchased last year by two sets of brothers – the Risbaras and the Michauds. The longtime town residents, friends and business owners paid $6.7 million for the sprawling property at the center of town. The racetrack had been struggling for years and on the market for nearly two decades when the brothers stepped forward.

The Downs pitched the project as a mixed-use community that would balance residential, commercial and light-industrial development. It also would preserve 200 acres of open space and create 10 miles of recreational trails and sidewalks.

Residential construction at The Downs is underway off Route 1, including 30 single-family homes, 48 condominiums and 48 apartments. Construction of a residential facility specializing in dementia care is expected to start later this year.

The planning board recently gave preliminary approval for a light-industrial innovation district at The Downs, off Payne Road and Exit 42 of the Maine Turnpike. Site development is expected to start in July, following final state and local approvals.

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