March 2015

SportsTurf provides current, practical and technical content on issues relevant to sports turf managers, including facilities managers. Most readers are athletic field managers from the professional level through parks and recreation, universities.

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34 SportsTurf | March 2015 N o surprise: Soccer is the most popular youth sport in the US, attracting more participants than all other sports combined . . . more than 3 million! Again, no surprise: Municipal field managers can't keep up with the demand for playing time on soccer fields. In Modesto, CA however, the city has found an innovative solution that has delighted the soccer community while receiving applause from city and busi- ness leaders. Located in the Central Valley, Modesto has more than 3,500 young people on soccer teams. In 2012 the parks department formed a partnership with the non-profit Modesto Youth Soccer Association (MYSA) in which the city built Mary Grogan Park, an $11 million state-of-the-art soccer complex. Upon completion in June 2013, the facility was turned over to MYSA to operate. The first phase of a three-phase proj- ect, the park has seven soccer fields with each field averaging 40 to 50 hours of play a week. Created by Verde Design, a landscape architecture firm headquartered in Santa Clara, CA, Grogan Park features four natural turf fields and three Sprinturf synthetic fields. "People in the soccer world love this park," says Dennis O'Brien, facility man- ager. "Grogan Park is a showplace for great youth soccer. We have leagues from throughout the state booking tourna- ments here." An innovAtive ideA The partnership between Modesto and MYSA is one of the most interesting aspects of the project, reports Modesto Parks Project Coordinator Nathan Houx. "MYSA pays the city about $169,000 per year for park maintenance. MYSA then oversees the operation of the facil- ity and receives revenue from a number of sources, including facility rental to soccer leagues, parking fees and conces- sions," he said. "MYSA also receives 4,000 free hours of use at the facility in exchange for the payment of maintenance." O'Brien explains that MYSA was involved in the design and planning of the park from day one. The facility has a special Championship Field, which is set about 3 feet below ground level for bet- ter viewing. Night lighting was installed and bleachers are on the plans. The revenue that the fields gener- ate comes from several sources: soccer training camps; competitive leagues that travel around the state (Modesto alone has 30 competitive teams); rec- reational leagues; plus adult leagues. Senior leagues are in discussion and may soon be joining the roster. More than 400,000 people attended soccer events in Modesto the first year of operation. "Bookings run six to eight months in advance," says O'Brien. "The Northern California Soccer League, for example, with 3,000 teams, has booked Grogan Park for their quarter-, semi- and tour- nament finals for 2015." This activity has generated revenue far beyond the soccer field. Businesses in Soccer field partnerShip payS off IRRIGATION & DRAINAGE Editor's note: This article was supplied by Hardwick Creative Services, Encinitas, CA on behalf of their client, Underhill International. More than 400,000 people attended soccer events in Modesto the first year of operation.

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