Enid Sports is moving forward with the purchase of property for a new soccer complex in west Enid.

The proposed location is about 126 acres on the northwest corner of Rupe and Garland, Enid Sports Executive Director Jessica Nelson told Enid Park Board Tuesday.

“Right now, we’re in the process of figuring out easements. There’s some weird gas line that we’ve got to figure out the easement with, but we’re steaming ahead on purchasing that property,” she said.

Plans include building 12 fields, some with lighting, and all with irrigation, Nelson said. There also will be shade structures, playground equipment and sidewalks.

She is looking into artificial turf options versus natural grass, and said there may be some of both in the complex.

“The community impact is profound. We have 1,000 kids that play soccer in Enid, and we are a growing sport,” Nelson said.

The city of Enid will benefit economically, she said. The average tournament requires one to two nights in a hotel, with those people staying here also eating at restaurants.

“The city of Enid would benefit just from a better quality facility,” Nelson said. “As we all know, the current soccer complex was never meant to be a soccer complex. When it rains, it fills up and becomes a pond. That’s because that’s what it was supposed to do. It does exactly what it’s supposed to perfectly.”

It’s hard for the city to maintain a water detention zone, she said.

Enid Sports has received $3 million in donations, and Nelson presented the project to the Enid City Commission in November for possible infrastructure-related work.

Nelson said some other interested parties may help with the project.

Ditch Witch is willing to donate some trench and drilling for conduit and irrigation lines, she said. Johnston Seed Co. has been breeding a sports turf over the past 10 years and is wanting to introduce it.

“Their sod farm is just a few miles outside of town, so I’ve had discussions with them about becoming kind of a testing facility for them, so they could come out and do quality testing,” Nelson said. “They were really excited about that.”

City of Enid Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Boehm said the challenge for the new complex will be getting a professional turf manager on board to rotate fields and get the best turf quality.

“That’s exactly what we’re going to do next year at the current facility, is we’re going to set where the fields are and we’re going to determine when they get switched,” he said. “The biggest complaint at our facility, besides turf quality, is the distance to the bathrooms. You can’t have a bathroom on every field.”

The new complex will be for recreational and competitive soccer, camps and the community, Nelson said.

Enid Soccer Club will be included in the use, but it will not be limited to the club, she said. Enid Sports is a separate nonprofit entity from the club.

There will be a field maintenance usage fee, Nelson said.

“The model that we’re looking to talk to Enid Soccer Club about, it’s worked into the registration fees. I’ve reached out to them several times. They haven’t responded to me. We will get there,” she said. “I was formerly a board member on Enid Soccer Club, and I know when it’s off season … they’re done. They’re ready for a break. So I assume here in January they’ll be responding to me.”

The hope is to start construction in late summer 2018, Nelson said.

“It’s in preliminary design phase right now,” she said.

Another part of the project is putting a soccer field west of Longfellow Middle School.

“Enid Public Schools and Enid Sports are coming up with a partnership agreement on getting a field there,” she said.

The school has purchased property to the west of the school, Nelson said.

Story by: Enid News and Eagle

Written by:  Jessica Miller