WASHINGTON CITY — An agreement struck Wednesday between Washington City and a northern Utah-based youth soccer organization is paving the way for a sports field complex to be built in the southern part of the city.
Located in the Stucki Farms area along the Southern Parkway, the project involves the creation of a 55-acre complex that will feature 16 outdoor sports fields and a 130,000-square-foot facility that will house an indoor soccer field and related amenities.
According to numbers presented to the Washington City Council in December, the Stucki Farm sports complex is estimated to attract over 500,000 people a year, have an annual economic impact of $18 million and generate $350,000 in tax revenue for Washington City.
“The thought here is that we’re going to have an amenity that’s important for the community, and it’s an amenity that some other communities would pay greatly for to put in themselves,” Washington City Manager Jeremy Redd said.
Another advantage to the city is that the facility will be built by a private entity, Redd said, adding that water for the complex, particularly its grass fields, isn’t coming from the city’s own supply but rather from preexisting, private wells in the Stucki Farms area.
The agreement, which was unanimously approved despite the reservations of one of the council members, allows the project developers to defer a part of the upfront cost of construction impact fees, though they would pay the remainder of the deferred cost over the next four years.
However, these fees have the potential to be mitigated if the sports complex reaches certain metrics.
A need for more sports fields
David Hubbard of Really Epic Ventures, an investment group that partnered with Salt Lake City-based Red Slopes Soccer on the complex, told the City Council on Wednesday that soccer is among the fastest-growing youth sports in America.
The increasing popularity of the sport has fueled a demand for sports fields, as was witnessed over Presidents Day weekend this year. Multiple youth soccer tournaments were held across the county wherever sports fields were available at the time. However, the demand often outstrips the supply, Hubbard previously told the council.
Because of the demand, the idea for a large-scale sport facility based in Southern Utah was hatched in 2018.
During the presentation given to the council in December, Hubbard said the 55-acre sports complex is projected to allow for tournaments of up to 300-500 teams. He cited the Presidents Cup, a youth soccer tournament held by Utah Youth Soccer Association in Mesquite, Nevada, as an example, adding that the creation of the sports facility in Washington City would allow the tournament to be held in Utah.
Beyond soccer, tournaments for lacrosse, field hockey, volleyball and other sports could also be held at the massive complex, Hubbard said. Additional proposed uses for the complex include hosting NCAA tournaments, Amateur Athletic Union qualifiers, B- and C-level coaching license classes and a Real Salt Lake training camp.
According to a press release from Red Slopes Soccer, work on the first phase of the complex is slated to begin in July, with the initial complex anticipated to be built by spring 2022. Additional phases will be built starting in 2023.
“We have taken a long time to find the right location for our first major facility in Southern Utah, so we are delighted to see this project come to fruition,” Daren Woolstenhulme, CEO of Red Slopes Soccer, said in the release.
“This region already has some great sporting facilities, so it is vital that we create a project for the whole community to enjoy throughout the week,” he said. “Its location next to the Southern Parkway means it is within easy reach of not only Washington City, but also traveling teams from further afield.”
Deferring impact fees
According to the agreement between the city and Red Slopes Soccer, the project developers will pay $209,800 up front once the building permit is issued. For the next four years they will pay the city $125,000 in deferred impact fees. The latter amount will be subject to mitigation, however, if the complex meets performance metrics, like hosting a certain number of soccer teams and tournaments over the course of many “team days.”
If those metrics are met, the deferred fees for that year are mitigated.
Additionally, Hubbard told the City Council that the complex is giving the city’s recreational programs 10% of the available time on the sports fields and in the indoor field house.
“That equates to about 100 hours per week that is open to Washington City at zero cost,” Hubbard said. “That equates to about $200,000 a year.”
Prior to voting in favor of the agreement, council member Craig Coats said he wasn’t comfortable with taking money away from the city’s streets and infrastructure, where impact fees are generally applied.
Coats also said he didn’t see the economic benefit to the city given the lack of commercial facilities in the area where the sports complex would be built. Any money people would spend would likely end up in St. George, he said.
“The numbers just aren’t there for me,” Coats said.
Hubbard said the complex is being built in anticipation of the city’s continuing growth and move for commercial development along the Southern Parkway.
As an offset to Coats’ concerns, Redd proposed that the $125,000 be covered by the city through the use of RAP tax funds or other city funds and potentially counted as “paying rent” for the 10% use the sports facility will supply the city. This proposal, with some tweaking by the council, was accepted by all parties concerned.
Despite appearing to have lingering concerns, Coats voted in favor of the agreement with the rest of the council.
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