The U.S. Soccer Foundation has awarded a $64,431 grant to help fund the installation of field lighting and irrigation equipment at the future Mobile County Soccer Complex.
Mobile County Commission President Connie Hudson made the announcement during a meeting Thursday morning, adding that the county is one of only seven entities that received a grant in the current cycle of foundation’s “Safe Places to Play” program.
The grant will only defray the cost of a small portion of the multi-million-dollar project, but Hudson, who has led efforts to build the complex for years, said support from the foundation also helps “legitimize” the push to expand youth soccer opportunities in Mobile.
“We are extremely grateful to the U.S. Soccer Foundation for their support and for recognizing the tremendous impact this facility will have by improving access to youth sports for everyone in our community,” Hudson said.
According to the Foundation, the Safe Places to Play grant program seeks to provide kids with safe and accessible areas to play soccer by funding the design, construction, surfacing and enhancement of facilities in “underserved” communities throughout the country.
The grant process is also a partnership with some of the Foundation’s corporate partners, including Hunter Industries, Sport Court and Musco Lighting — a company already working with Mobile County on light for the fields that will be built at the county’s complex.
U.S. Soccer Foundation President & CEO Ed Foster-Simeon said through the Safe Places to Play grants, the foundation aims “to help provide opportunities for community members to reap all the benefits that the game has to offer.”
The first phase of construction at the complex will include two tournament-quality fields and two seeded practice fields along with irrigation, sewer, lighting, landscaping, a permeable
parking lot and an entrance road. The first phase is slated to cost just over $4 million.
The completed complex will house 10 tournament-quality lighted fields, a championship field with bleachers and concession and restroom buildings. It’s currently unclear exactly how much the entire project would cost, but some rough estimates have put it near $20 million.
However, Hudson has consistently maintained that the second and third phase of the project wouldn’t be constructed until funding becomes available through the county’s future capital improvement programs, grants or community fundraising efforts.
In the meantime, construction of the first phase is expected to begin next month. An official groundbreaking has been scheduled for 10 a.m., May 17. If everything stays on schedule, Hudson said the first phase of the complex should be completed by January 2020.
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