Sunday, July 12, 2015

City Shows, Discusses Plan For Sports Complex

The Elk Grove City Council Chambers were filled on this Saturday morning. No City Councilors in site, but in a meeting billed as a “public workshop” city planners were here on a sunny day to show artists’ drawings of what they hope will be a successful Stage One of a proposed city-owned and operated sports complex. Most of the audience jammed into Council Chambers was in uniform.

Members of the FC Elk Grove soccer club and several coaches and parents were wide-eyed looking at images of what could in a little more than a year become their home facility.

An artist's drawing of Phase One of the planned Elk Grove Sports Complex which would contain 12 soccer fields 
In October of 2014 the city purchased 100 acres just outside city limits near Grantline and Waterman. The reason, according to city manager Laura Gill, was to supplement something that the Cosumnes Community Services District couldn’t do – provide a facility for a rapidly growing soccer community in Elk Grove.

 “Part of what we are trying to accomplish with this complex is to provide services up and above what Cosumnes Community Service does,” Gill said. “We don’t want to overlap services between them. What we are doing is addressing the need for field sports.”

 Though the half-hour presentation was primarily talking about all the amenities of the first portion of the sports complex project, Gill says plans for a multi-use stadium and a fairground on the southern part of the parcel adjoining the Cosumnes River are on the drawing board.

 Elk Grove Youth Soccer League president Debra Carlton says the large showing of her soccer players and coaches was planned on this particular morning.

 “We’ve been a part of this process since the beginning, so we pack these hearing rooms so our members understand the process, understand what is about to happen or what is planned for the future, so they can be a part of the process, “ she said. “We’ve been here every step of the process the last three years."

Gill says the sports complex idea came five years ago when the City was presented by a feasibility study for its proposed City Center complex along Elk Grove Blvd.

 “What we were directed by Council was to go ahead with Phase One, the soccer fields,” Gill explained. “Remember, we are augmenting CSD and CSD doesn’t have enough soccer fields. In the feasibility study commissioned in 2010, we were told we didn’t have enough facilities for field sports.”

A map showing the proposed location of a new Elk Grove Sports Complex, on Grantline, near Waterman

That same study also showed a need for more facilities to meet the needs of the Elk Grove aquatics community. Gill says the City is currently receiving bids on an aquatics complex that will be located near Elk Grove Blvd. and Big Horn Blvd. and expects construction to get underway in the near future.

 EGYSL Chief Executive Officer Andrew Donnery says the sports complex on Grantline Rd. would benefit the soccer community of Elk Grove.

 “Our competitive program has grown 25 percent,” he said. “We need more fields on which to play.”

 Donnery said with the current drought, the current fields need to be left un-used on a rotating basis, allowed to be revived but with 1200 members of FC Elk Grove and more than 6500 soccer players overall, that’s impossible. Thus, more fields are needed.

 Carlton says currently there are four FC Elk Grove teams for each regulation soccer field in the City.

 “It’s simply not enough,” she said.

 The facility, Gill added, won’t be for the exclusive use of soccer. It will be open to the City’s rugby, lacrosse and field hockey organizations.

 Gill agrees that the project revenue derived by having these kinds of facilities is why the City is willing to advance ahead with the sports complex.

 “We doing this based on the projections from regional tournaments, national tournaments, so many games of tournaments of other sports, “ she explained. “We’re currently obtaining all that for the City Council for their meeting in late August. The revenue is projected assuming we can program this facility to its fullest and from the increase of hotel/motel taxes that could come from this.”

 Gill said other cities who have constructed these kind of sports complexes has seen measureable increase in numbers of hotels and motels in their communities.

 Donnery said FC Elk Grove hosted a large tournament in early May to kick off the soccer season. More than 250 teams from all over Northern California participated. The games were staged on soccer fields all over the city.

 “That brought in a little more than $1.5 million to the city,” he said. “That’s based on about $150 per night for each individual coming into Elk Grove. A tournament of that size can bring in revenue for hotels, restaurants in our city.”

 Donnery thinks with the new soccer facility, tournaments could handle as many as 500 teams at one time.

 “Our next step is to work with the City and plan national tournaments,” he said. “With this complex we could go five- to six-hundred teams. And, with the lights we could go later.”

 Though the facility is all ideas, drawings and talk at this time, the City Council could vote in its Aug. 26th meeting to make the sports complex a reality. But, there are some steps the City must do, including annexing the property, before construction could begin.

 “We need to go the process with the Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCo) and that’s through Sacramento County,” Gill explained. “As soon as that’s done then this property can be annexed into the City by this time next year. We hopefully will be able to start construction then.”

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