Eric Howard, left, and Chris Schaeffer talk about building a new indoor athletic facility in a field behind the Eagle City Road Soccer Complex Thursday. Bill Lackey/Staff
Photo: Bill Lackey
Photo: Bill Lackey

Indoor soccer complex proposed at Eagle City

The city of Springfield wants to amend the 69-acre soccer complex from an agricultural district to a green district to establish the indoor recreational facility, according to public documents. The city’s application will be heard by the City Planning Board at its June 8 meeting.

Developer Eric Howard, who owns Champion City Crossfit, 14 E. North St., has two investors lined up for the project and hopes to open in the winter of 2016. He’s still looking for more investors and sponsors.

“All options are on the table,” Howard said. “Nothing is set in stone. We’re anxious to get going.”

The plan includes constructing a 56-yard indoor turf field as part of the first phase, followed by a 70-yard indoor turf field during the second phase, Howard said. The fields — which would be built by Kapp Construction — would accommodate different sports, including soccer, football and lacrosse. The plan also includes sand volleyball courts.

The deal is not done at this point, but the city has been working behind the scenes with Howard on a potential lease deal for the Eagle City site, said Springfield Assistant City Manager and Director of Economic Development Tom Franzen. Some enhancements may be needed, including upgrading the parking, he added.

“It’s easy access if you’re trying to host tournaments or groups from the region,” Franzen said.

With its location near U.S. Route 68, the outdoor soccer facility and Splash Zone Family Aquatic Center, the area is seen as ideal for more recreational amenities. Several other new athletic facilities, including the National Trail Parks and Recreation District Chiller Ice Arena, prove the area is ready to become a hub for athletics, Howard said.

“That’s the goal,” Howard said.

The project will cost “a few million dollars”, Howard said.

“It’s not a small number,” he added.

The idea was born out of Howard’s current clients missing workouts because they’re driving to Dayton to play sports, he said. He also heard from several community members about the large number of Clark and Champaign county residents driving to the SportsPlex in Fairborn to play indoor soccer.

“From our members, there’s kind of a need,” Howard said.

The new indoor facility will keep Springfield residents from leaving Clark County for their winter recreational needs, Franzen said. The facility may benefit all different types of users, including parks and recreation groups, select teams, high schools and adult players.

“If you have an option that’s of equal value or better quality and it’s in your own backyard, I think the assumption is everyone will stay local,” Franzen said. “I think it’s a no-brainer. It makes sense to capture the local market.”

An indoor soccer and tennis facility was discussed about two years ago at 715 N. Bechtle Ave., the former municipal pool site that has been closed since 2006. The deal, however, fell through.

“People perceive that there’s a need,” Franzen said. “It’s just a matter of building a facility that’s economical.”

The land is owned by the city, but is maintained by National Trail Parks and Recreation District. The location won’t affect the park district’s ability to host soccer in the spring and fall, said NTPRD Director Leann Castillo. The athletic complex won’t create competition or more traffic because the peak seasons will be different, she added.

The Eagle City complex currently has eight full-size outdoor soccer fields that can be converted into 16 smaller fields. About 1,250 children participated in NTPRD’s fall and spring leagues during the last school year, but many travel out of the county to play in the winter.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to have indoor soccer in our community, instead of people having to drive to Fairborn to get that,” Castillo said. “It will be a nice, convenient thing for our community.”

The Springfield Thunder, a local select soccer organization with 370 players on 27 boys and girls teams ages 8-19, plays its home outdoor matches at Eagle City Road complex. In the winter, however, the teams travel to Dayton and Cincinnati for indoor matches. The new facility could cut down on travel time and expenses in the winter, said Thunder Board President Maggie Roberts.

“It would be a better opportunity for our players to have something local,” Roberts said.

Some select teams have their own indoor facilities to use in the winter, Roberts said, which can be a draw for players. The organization would be interested in partnering with the facility, she said.

“We’re always looking to make our club better,” Roberts said.

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