By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
Looking for a place to play soccer in Keizer?
By sometime in 2014 there could be plenty of fields to choose from – 25, in fact.
Portland’s Carrie Cool, executive director of 25 fields for Oregon, announced plans this week to build a youth field sports park between I-5 and Portland Road, north of Chemawa Road.
Cool said her non-profit organization recently signed an agreement – terms were not disclosed – to purchase 195 acres of land. The land, as proposed, will be turned into 25 multiuse grass fields, with soccer being the main objective.
“What we really want to get started with is 25 soccer fields,” Cool said. “We’re looking at 25 fields so we can have five fields offline. That way we can host multiple events at one time. It gives us a lot of flexibility.”
According to Cool, the idea came from a discussion three years ago with Oregon Youth Soccer Association officials about what would be needed to host big soccer tournaments. After being told 20 fields in one location, Cool made it her goal to develop a complex with 25 fields.
Cool, who has yet to talk with Keizer officials about her plans, said the fields could be an economic boon for the region.
“At a Region 4 championship, 90 percent of the teams come from out of the state,” Cool said. “There would be a $10 million local impact just for one tournament when you look at things like hotels, rental cars and food.”
Cool said putting up 25 fields would make the facility the second largest in the U.S.
“It’s multiuse,” she said. “The two groups most interested right now are soccer and lacrosse, with lacrosse being the largest growing sport in the state. We’re not averse to any sport. We want to work with the community. We need to have a larger community discussion. We want to get the opening phase done, then we’ll look at what’s good for the area.”
Cool is projecting fields to be ready in 2014.
“It will kind of depend on the weather,” said Cool, who noted a “highly regarded gentleman” is on board to develop the fields. “If it’s a wet winter, it may not open until May or June. If this is a regular winter, it could open in February 2014. We are promising the nicest playing surface in the country.”
According to Cool, she is a member of a four-person board with a strong network of people and supporters. Board members are meeting with potential sponsors and donors to get the necessary funding.
“The long-term vision is developing a foundation,” Cool said. “Once operational, we foresee revenue far exceeding what is needed. Every dime would be turned back to youth organizations and into developing facilities all around Oregon. We’re excited about what this can do for youth sports in Oregon, for playing facilities and creating a better economy for the Salem-Keizer area.”