As grass sprouts, city unsure when new soccer complex will open

Hopes are sprouting along with the grass at the city's future 10-field soccer complex, but it's still unknown whether soccer players will be allowed on the fields this year.

Hopes are sprouting along with the grass at the city's future 10-field soccer complex, but it's still unknown whether soccer players will be allowed on the fields this year.

The grass was planted last fall. With the snow now gone, Dan Allen, a city councilman and member of the city's soccer committee, said the winter kill appears to have been minimal.

City workers will tend the grass through the summer and then decide whether it's ready for soccer this fall. Allen said the weather will play a major role, because an especially hot and dry summer could hurt the fields' maturation process.

"It all depends," he said, "on what Mother Nature brings."

Allen added that the decision ultimately will be made by the city parks and recreation officials who care for the grass. If they deem another year of growth to be necessary, play on the fields will be postponed until next summer.


Meanwhile, fundraising and construction efforts continue.

The city already has completed the first of three construction phases at the complex, located in extreme northern Mitchell near the airport and the National Guard facility. The first phase included an irrigation system, grading and drainage work, grass, paved walkways and fencing.

Phase 2, to be completed this year, will include a concessions building with locker rooms, restrooms and storage space; concrete bases for future seating and gazebos; fencing around the championship field; construction of a gravel parking lot with curb and gutter; and construction of sidewalks from the parking lot into the complex.

After Phase 2, the complex will be mostly completed and ready for use, pending the condition of the grass.

"The goal here is to get things operational and start using it," said Marty Barington, another city councilman and soccer committee member, "even though it might not be completely done."

Phase 3, which is contingent upon funding, will include pavement for the parking lot, adding an overflow parking lot, installing seating and lighting for the championship field, and building an additional restroom facility.

So far, the city has spent $1,085,725 on the complex with another $150,000 payment due soon. Collections from private fundraising have totaled $349,618, with pledges totaling $158,334 still due. The expected total cost of the project is around $2 million.

The private fundraising has included the sale of nine field sponsorships at $20,000 apiece, a $20,000 grant from Avera Health and a $120,000 contribution to be paid over three years by the Mitchell School District. The sale of engraved bricks that will be incorporated into the complex has also brought in some funds. The total of brick fundraiser sales was not immediately available, but City Council minutes have noted the receipt of at least $9,805 from brick sales since October.


Brick sales are continuing, and Allen said other remaining opportunities for donors include sponsoring the championship field and donating to the gazebos.

Denise Werner, a leader in the effort to get the complex built and a South Dakota State Soccer Association commissioner, said soccer enthusiasts around the state are well aware of Mitchell's future complex. Mitchell could make a strong bid for future state tournaments, she said.

"But the tournaments are the icing on the cake, the gravy," she said. "We built this complex for Mitchell and to take care of Mitchell kids and players and Mitchell youth, from kindergarten to college."

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