Soccer fields up for sale -- someday
Fear hit the Moorhead Youth Soccer Club like a penalty shot to the gut. Were members going to lose the 14 fields they use at the Moorview Soccer Complex to a company wanting to build on the city-owned land? The short answer, Moorhead officials sa...
Fear hit the Moorhead Youth Soccer Club like a penalty shot to the gut.
Were members going to lose the 14 fields they use at the Moorview Soccer Complex to a company wanting to build on the city-owned land?
The short answer, Moorhead officials say, is no. Not today, not tomorrow.
But in the long term, the fields, nearly 50 acres of land at 3001 24th Ave. S., just north of Interstate 94, likely will be developed, and the soccer fields will have to be replaced, said Mayor Mark Voxland.
"The soccer people will not be forgotten -- I spent too many mornings out there (at Moorview) in the cold, doggone it," he said.
Being left out was club president Gregg Feigum's main concern. He was afraid soccer users -- including the 3,500 children in his soccer club -- would not be told about an impending sale until the decision had been made.
Feigum wrote a letter expressing his worries to the city this week, after the topic arose in a Moorhead Youth Soccer Club board meeting. But after meeting with City Manager Bruce Messelt, Feigum said he's satisfied the city is committed to providing an equal or better home for soccer in Moorhead, if Moorview has to be replaced.
"If something did get sold out from under us, that would cause some problems," Feigum said. "Today, I don't think that's going to happen."
Still, Messelt's reply letter to Feigum said, the city and the soccer organizations should start talking about the long-term future of the site.
That discussion may fit into the soccer club's strategic planning effort, which starts at a public meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, at Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Feigum said.
This isn't the first time organizations that use the site -- including the Moorhead High School teams, Red River Soccer and Agassiz Master's Soccer Association -- have faced the possibility of being kicked off the site.
Four years ago, then-City Manager Jim Antonen suggested moving the fields to the north side of the city, near Centennial Park, to free the land for development.
Soccer supporters cried foul, and the plan was never adopted.
But Voxland said the fields, sandwiched between the industrial park and the interstate, were always supposed to be temporary.
Since officials knew the city-owned land would sit empty for many years, they created a partnership with local soccer groups, spent $225,000 from a bond sale for recreation projects to set up the fields, and opened them in 1993.
Since then, soccer groups have pitched in with funds and labor to improve the site, helping to plant trees, build shelters and an office building, and provide bleachers, Feigum said.
More than 5,500 children and adults are involved in the groups that use the site. An annual summer tournament held at Moorview draws about 80 teams, some from as far away as South Dakota or Canada, Feigum said.
But the land has remained designated for industrial development in the city's plan for the future, and it is included in the city's tax-free, state-granted Job Opportunity Building Zone, said Director of Development Services Peter Doll.
"We're constantly in contact with people who inquire about that site, just because it's a large, choice piece of property," Doll said.
For example, part of the site was mentioned as a possible location for a new RDO Equipment facility, which the company hopes to build somewhere in the metro area next spring, said Ryan Offutt, communications director for RDO Equipment.
For now, no sale is impending, city officials said.
"We don't even have anybody really serious about the land there. But someday we will," Voxland said.
Having to leave the site would make thousands of kids sad, said Moorhead Youth Soccer Club board member Steve Lindaas.
Moorview is unique because of its large number of fields, he said. Any replacement might not have as many, or might be harder to access.
"It's horrible because we could have the field yanked out from under our feet," he said.
The loss of the site also would mean the forfeiture of a lot of history, said Mark Franta, president of the Red River Soccer Club.
"Every kid who started playing soccer in Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo that's older than 13, every one of them played at that field," Franta said.
Still, having the fields replaced is the most important thing, he said.
"It's a destination place -- wherever it would be, that wouldn't matter," Franta said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Joy Anderson at (701) 241-5556