The Dayton Dutch Lions soccer team will call West Carrollton home as the result of a three-way deal announced Wednesday.
The Dutch Lions, the West Carrollton school district and the Dayton Outpatient Center said the 30-year agreement will mean more than $529,000 in renovations to outdoor athletic facilities, including the high school football stadium, which will bear the name of the outpatient center.
The deal means the soccer organization will have its practice fields, home field and youth academy in West Carrollton, where its office is located. The Dutch Lions, who are affiliated with the Columbus Crew and compete in the United Soccer Leagues Professional Division, have been playing home games at Beavercreek High School.
The team had an average reported attendance of less than 1,000 per game.
It will begin its home schedule in April in Beavercreek before moving to Dayton Outpatient Center Field, set to open May 10, said Mike Mossel, Dutch Lions president. The season ends in July for the women’s team and in September for the men’s team.
The Dutch Lions, meanwhile, will continue searching for a stadium site in the area. The organization had considered a site off Yankee Road in Washington Twp. before pulling out because of possible legal concerns stemming from neighbor worries of the impact a stadium would have on the area, Mossel said.
Mossel added the stadium site search might take two to three years. Notwithstanding a new stadium site, with the new deal the team’s youth academy — which has been located at various area sites — will remain in West Carrollton, he said.
“Anything that comes to the table would be a bonus,” Mossel said of a future stadium site. “But that’s not what we’re talking about today.”
The agreement is an extension of the school district’s partnership with the Dutch Lions, said West Carrollton Superintendent Rusty Clifford. It is the second step in a three-phase plan, Mossel said.
This phase will include installing artificial turf to West Carrollton’s football/soccer field and installing lights to practice fields, Clifford said. The turf will help decrease head injuries better than a natural surface, said Dr. Suresh Gupta, president of the outpatient center.
“It’s a safer surface to play on,” said Gupta, “… and that sends a message to kids.”
Gupta said the cost of installing the turf will be between $450,000 and $475,000. The Motz Co., which has an office in Cincinnati, is completing the work, Clifford said.
A third phase will involve constructing a cover for the home team stands and installing signage on the rear of the structure, officials said.
The signage, near Interstate 75 and the improvements to Exit 47 made in recent years, will help with access and in marketing for the community and the Dutch Lions, officials said.
“With 120,000 cars a day going north and south on I-75, you’ve got very good visibility,” West Carrollton Mayor Jeffery Sanner said.
“It’s key for us to get word out about our club,” Mossel said. “With the cars passing by every day and the kids out on the fields wearing orange (gear), it takes that big gap away.”
The Dutch Lions youth academy plays a key role in community outreach, he said. The program last year had about 220 participants, and the organization is looking to increase that number.