LINCOLN — Jeff LeDent estimated that his family spent more than $15,000 last year traveling to his daughter’s club soccer tournaments.

Unfortunately, LeDent said, almost all of that spending was outside Nebraska, in places like Scottsdale, Des Moines and Denver, because Omaha lacks the large field complexes needed to host such tournaments.

LeDent, an official with Millard United Sports, which runs leagues for hundreds of youth baseball, softball and soccer players, was among those testifying at a legislative hearing Friday in favor of a bill to encourage more youth sports tourism in Nebraska.

Such tourism has grown into a $9 billion industry nationally, advocates said, but communities in the state are missing out on the spending by sports families on dining and lodging bills — and local and state taxes — because Nebraska doesn’t have adequate, multifield complexes to host large, club sports tournaments. LeDent said the situation is so bad that one Nebraska youth baseball state tournament has to play many of its games in Iowa.

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State Sen. Brett Lindstrom of Omaha said that his Legislative Bill 187 could change that by providing needed tax revenue for the renovation and construction of sports complexes across the state.

The bill is particularly aimed at helping proposed improvement of fields at Omaha’s Tranquility Park, which is in Lindstrom’s district, and development of a complex of soccer/baseball fields near Lincoln’s Pinnacle Bank Arena, though backers said it could also be used by the much-delayed Nebraska Multisports Complex proposed in La Vista.

The proposal would allow sports complexes to obtain sales tax revenue generated by businesses within 600 yards of the complex to build fields, parking lots and concession stands. Such a turnback tax is already allowed for sports arenas, and has been used to build the CHI Health Center in Omaha, Pinnacle Bank Arena and the Ralston Arena. A portion of the turnback taxes also provide grants for community centers in rural communities.

Lindstrom, a former Nebraska football player, unsuccessfully pushed a similar bill a year ago. But this year’s measure was modified to limit the turnback to six years — two years before a project is completed to four years after. The changes helped turn the City of Omaha from an opponent last year to a supporter on Friday.

“I do see the revenue we’re losing,” Omaha City Council member Aimee Melton said Friday.

She emphasized that the turnback money would be part of a public-private partnership to improve the Tranquility Park fields, which recently saw $1 million invested by a soccer association to install artificial turf on one of the fields. If regional and national tournaments were held there, development of motels, restaurants and other businesses would follow, Melton said.

But a couple of rural senators questioned whether Omaha and Lincoln already had sufficient tax resources to expand and improve sports complexes.

State Sen. Mike Groene of North Platte said his community used its local keno funds to build sports fields. The state, he said, shouldn’t have to give up some of its sales tax revenue for local ballfields. Groene added that sports complexes in Hastings and the Ralston Arena were “fiascos” that have become financial strikeouts instead of economic home runs.

Sen. Curt Friesen of Henderson said that if the projections of millions of dollars of economic benefit are accurate, why aren’t private developers stepping up to pay for the improved sports complexes without taxpayer help?

“Are you interested in investing?” Lindstrom asked.

“Are you interested in buying some farmland?” responded Friesen, a farmer.

The Legislature’s Revenue Committee took no action on LB 187 after the hearing.