By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
If a proposed 25-field soccer facility is built just northeast of city limits, youth in Keizer would be able to use it.
That was one of several answers provided by organizers with the non-profit 25 fields for Oregon at Tuesday night’s Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting at Keizer Civic Center.
Carrie Cool, executive director of 25 fields for Oregon, spoke along with Ken Sandblast and Paul Wild. The group hopes to open the 130-acre facility across I-5 from Volcanoes Stadium in early 2014.
“This all started about three years ago,” Cool said. “It’s all about bringing money to youth sports. We will build across the interstate a 25-soccer field complex, with more ground in the future around the state.”
Cool acknowledged there is still a legislative process to go through and fundraising.
Sandblast noted the non-profit nature of the organization makes it unique for such a project.
“It’s never been done this way before across the country,” Sandblast said.
Wild said the hope is to get some grants to help out.
“Proceeds would be distributed first to this area, then around the state,” Wild said.
Since the idea was first publicized in the Keizertimes last month, several questions have been raised.
One of the key questions has been the availability of the fields to local youth, as several soccer fields are currently in the planning stages in Keizer.
“What relationship will there be between your organization and local groups or kids?” asked Richard Walsh, chair of the Parks board. “Will there be any opportunity to use these fields?”
“Oh yes,” Cool replied. “It will be an open venue. A fee structure will be involved. We still have to have that conversation about what that would be like.”
Sandblast said other fields already in development would complement the 25 fields.
“If there are 35 fields, it’s that much better for the future,” he said. “We want kids to be able to play on the fields. We want to get them running. We fully expect we will have ongoing conversations with the community once these are running. We know, once running, it will be successful.”
Organizers pointed out a typical soccer tournament can attract up to 150 teams for a three-day tournament. Adding up the players, coaches and family members for each team, a large economic impact could be realized.
“Once school is out, we would expect heavy usage through Labor Day,” Sandblast said.
At the end of the presentation, Walsh addressed the proponents.
“This is very impressive,” Walsh said. “Do you think this is going to happen?”
Cool answered affirmatively.
“It’s not a question of if, but when,” she said. “We chose this place because of the location…It’s all about the conversation. This is huge for Oregon. We just need to keep this conversation going.”