ST GEORGE – Soccer is on the mind with the FIFA World Cup final Sunday featuring Germany and Argentina going head to head. Whether competition is taking place on the biggest stage in the world, or in a small soccer complex in St. George, the facilities provided help drive the sport.
According to the City of St. George Website, the area currently has two soccer locations run by the city, Bluff Street Park and The Fields at Little Valley, mainly being a softball complex.
There is a big shortage of fields in the area and it is a concern, Danny Ortiz, executive director for Southern Utah Youth Soccer, said.
“When you’re talking youth soccer you’re talking families,” Ortiz said. “So when you have soccer fields for them it’s a complex where a family can come if they have several of their children playing, they’re all in one location for the most part.”
To accommodate both youth and adult soccer competition, a minimum of five fields, with a best scenario of eight, would be ideal for playing conditions, Ortiz said.
The Presidents Cup tournament – played over three different weekends – used to feature games in St. George and Mesquite, Ortiz said. Due to the lack of facilities, the tournament is now played exclusively in Mesquite even though it is put on through Utah Youth Soccer.
“There’s nothing within the city limits that I know of where they can hold an event like that,” Ortiz said.
Although Southern Utah Youth Soccer does put on tournaments, they rely heavily on school fields rented from the school district.
Different organizations and entities have attempted to put in fields, but none have come through, Ortiz said. The reason for the fault in execution in regards to working with the city seems to be unknown.
“It’s always been a mystery to us, especially when you look at the base of children playing soccer from St. George, we have over 3,500 people in our organization,” Ortiz said, “but yet the tax dollars don’t reflect evenly toward that amount of players as they do to other sports.”
The city in conjunction with the school district is currently conducting an assessment that inventories the use and need of facilities in Washington County and St. George.
St. George Recreation Manager Steve Bingham is part of the assessment team, seeing that the assessments are done on the city as a whole.
“We haven’t come to a conclusion of how many soccer fields are needed but there is increasing demand for multi-use grass fields,” Bingham said, “whether it’s rugby, ultimate, soccer or lacrosse, there’s a broad range of things that’s vying for a limited resource.”
The assessment looks at available spaces, how frequent facilities are used and looking at requests they are getting in regards to the use of the space. In regards to adding new spaces, public comment is considered.
“It’s absolutely driven by the public and their expression of needs,” Bingham said.
Although the issue at hand may not be seen as solved, steps are being taken to understand what needs to be done.
“It’s an issue that’s got to be addressed by the city at some point,” Ortiz said, “we’re doing some things within our organization to where we’re working with some private entities as well to solve it.”
To understand future plans and development, the St. George Park Planning Division was contacted, but no response was returned.
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