WASHINGTON CITY – Nearly 20 years after a parcel of land along the Virgin River and Washington Fields Road was eyed as a spot for a future soccer park, the second phase of the Sullivan Virgin River Soccer Park in Washington City has reached completion.
“It’s been a lot of years,” Washington City Mayor Ken Neilson said. “We are excited, truly excited to have it opened and available to not only the Washington City residents but everybody.”
The public is welcome to attend a special grand opening ceremony Monday at 5:30 p.m. at the park, located at 965 S. Washington Fields Road in Washington. The first 1,000 attendees can receive free food at this family friendly event, and there will bounce houses for the kids and live demonstrations from the Dixie State University men’s and women’s soccer teams.
City officials and others gathered at the recently completed park on Friday to thank all those involved and provide attending media a view of the facility prior to its public grand opening next week.
Seeing the park from Washington Fields Road, one might think it simply consists of a fishing pond and pavilion with accompanying picnic tables. This is not the case once the onlooker is able to see past the pavilion, however. Just beyond it lay four individual soccer fields, pickleball courts and more. The overall park is 35.7 acres in size.
“This is a great day for us,” Barry Blake, Washington City Leisure Services director, said. “It’s been a long time coming.”
The park was put on the city’s master plan in 1998. The land it was eventually built on was sold to the city in 2001 by the Sullivan family for a generously low price, with the stipulation that the future park bear the family’s name.
“This wouldn’t have happened without the generous donation of the Sullivan family,” Neilson said.
Phase I of the project was completed in 2011 with the installation of the fishing pond and pavilion, followed by the Virgin River Boardwalk in 2014.
For a number of years, the site of the future park became a dumping ground and was also overgrown with vegetation, creating a potential fire hazard. Now, that is no longer the case.
“This site, for us, is a wonderful transformation of what it was to what it is now,” Blake said, adding that, at times, he and other city staff had to chase people away from the area to prevent them from continuing to use the area as a dump site.
The park is also located in the Virgin River’s 100-year flood plain and has been designed to function as a flood overflow area.
While geared largely toward soccer, Blake said, the fields will also be utilized for other field sports, like lacrosse and rugby.
Each soccer field is 360 feet by 225 feet, with 15-foot perimeters on the sidelines, and is lighted for nighttime play. In addition, there is covered spectator seating for each soccer field for 100-plus people.
The fields will be officially opened to competitive play around March. They are currently being overseeded and will not be ready for major use until that time.
“It’s for the community,” Blake said, adding there are over 1,000 kids that play soccer within the city. The park will serve more than just city sports leagues, though, as city officials intend for it to host soccer clubs and tournaments from across the area and beyond.
“The soccer park is much more than just four amazing soccer fields,” Washington City Councilman Kress Staheli said.
“The entire park provides a venue for individuals and families to recreate outside doing numerous activities, including fishing, playing on the splash pad, gathering at the pavilion, playing pickleball, walking the trails, and even accessing the Virgin River,” Staheli said. “The park incorporates many activities that are a part of our active Southern Utah lifestyle.”
The project has run the city an estimated $5.7 million to build, with over $3 million bonded earlier this year for completion of the park.
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