Since our league formed, we’ve been playing on pitches laid out in the outfields of our local ball fields. Our town has 4 beautiful ballfields plus an older field we sometimes use when field space gets tight. We’ve got 10 fields of various sizes spread out across the outfields and our Rec Department does a great job keeping the fields in good shape since we beat on them pretty hard in late Fall and early Spring when the Bermuda grass is brown.
In 2004, our City Council approached us about building a new soccer complex. They had some funding available and recognized that soccer was growing quickly in our small town. We were floored since our league was only just over 3 years old. However for a league that started out with 200 players in the first season, we now expect almost 600 players in our Spring 2006 season. The council saw the growth in our league and realized how popular soccer was with our kids. They felt they could spend approximately $1 million on a new complex and asked for our thoughts. Needless to say, once we picked our jaws up off the ground, we had a lot!
The first decision that had to be made was where to locate the complex. The city owned a sizable piece of land next to the existing Arts & Community Center where the ballfields and community center already were. This land was not flat and would need significant grading to make fields. Some council members also were considering some farm land north of town since we’ve seen significant growth in that direction and expect more in the future. In the end the council decided to use the land they already had at the existing sports complex to make upkeep easier and reduce the expense that would be needed for equipment at the northern facility.
The council wanted to build a four field complex which we were ecstatic about. The plans also called for a concession/bathroom building with some storage which we desperately needed. The concession stand will come in handy during larger soccer events that we hold here. We’ve found concessions don’t do very well during league game days since teams have a parent brings snacks and drinks to each match. But we’ll see if we can improve on that.
We taken a number of pictures during the construction of the facility which can be viewed on our league website.
Even more exciting is, during construction, the city council approached us about scoreboards which we did not expect. They felt a complex this nice should have scoreboards for big matches, tournaments, possibly high school matches, etc. If all goes well (The Rec Dept is still lining up quotes and such) each field will have a scoreboard similar to this:
We expect to choose a background other than red! Red LEDs with a red scoreboard isn’t great contrast wise. We figure it’ll be blue or purple or green. The boards have hand-held wireless remote controls so we would be able to run them from the sideline and not have to cart around the full sized control board for anything but big events. Needless to say we are VERY excited.
The fields were not turfed to save money. The director of our Rec Department reassured us that he would be able to grow a solid turf of bermuda grass for the fields. That was fine since someone initially thought fescue grass would be fine for the fields He was right. After they spread the seed mixture down (it was more of a coating that raw seed) and watered it like crazy, it grew very well. The picture on the left shows the turf after only 3-4 months of growth time. The slight brown areas are some dead weeds that had grown and got taken care of with herbicide. But you can see the turf is already nice and thick. To help ensure the grass is in good shape, we’re holding off on playing on the fields until late spring and even then only for select matches. We won’t use the complex for a full season of matches and practices until the fall to give the turf another year of good growing time.
The one thing our league faces that is a new challenge is making sure the facility is well used. Our seasons run from February through April and August through November. We have a summer camp in July. But the city really wants to see this complex used and they are looking to us to make sure its heavily booked. Some of the possibilities include:
- High School matches
- Matches from our local Challenge League (we’d have to deal with overlap since any weekday challenge match would bump a rec team’s practice)
- Summer Camps
- Summer Tournaments
- and perhaps eventually some bigger events like regional tournaments, etc. though our # of fields may limit that.
Obviously the league is very excited. But this new facility also presents us with some serious challenges including making sure it gets heavily used (so the city council feels it was a good investment), handling the schedule, overseeing concessions, etc. I expect our next few board meetings to be very productive! I’ll post from time to time and let you all know how its going.
If any of you have been involved or observed the construction of a new soccer facility for your local league, by all means let us know what you ran into and what to watch out for! This will definitely be a learning experience!