Project Description and History:
Soccer is a sport that brings smiles to children’s faces; its’growing clout and permanence can be traced to the explosion and durability of youth soccer. In many cases, it is the first sport children play, many of them as early as age five. Similar to soccer programs across the country the popularity of soccer continues to grow in Montana. The Livingston Youth Soccer Association (LYSA) programs have also experienced significant growth over the last 22 years and recently have had 10% increases each year in participation in both the spring and fall leagues.
Historically, Livingston had one full-sized soccer field located in Sacajawea Park. This was the primary playing field for 600 players and excessive use has compromised the safety of the field.
LYSA felt that if the critical shortage of fields was not addressed, the future of soccer in the Livingston area would be jeopardized. And so the search began for land to accommodate the lack of space for its volunteer based programs.
Hearing of LYSA’s plans to build new soccer facilities, the City of Livingston approached LYSA about their desire to address the critical need for public green space on the city’s north side. The city did not have the funding to develop a new city park but did own land on the north side. The two groups entered into a collaborative arrangement that dedicated an 18-acre parcel of city property for the development of the Northside Park and Soccer Fields. This is the area of the towns’ major growth, having over 500 new residential lots. After site feasibility studies concluded that the vacant property would meet the needs for both organizations, development and long term use agreements were signed in 2006. The agreement specifically delegates authority and responsibility to LYSA for the design, construction, and financing of a park and soccer field project. Once completed, a Use Agreement between the City of Livingston and LYSA outlines the cooperative management and maintenance of the park. This win-win collaboration not only addresses the critical need for more and safer soccer fields, but also addresses the critical need for park space the entire community can use. In addition, negotiations with Livingston School District added 3 acres to the project allowing for a fourth soccer field. With the additional space, Livingston School District and LYSA would be able to host high school and open soccer tournaments, which will help stimulate the local economy. One high school tournament can generate over $250,000 in 3 days for local businesses. Site design and budgeting were completed in 2007 for the new city park with open areas to allow for four soccer fields, estimated to have a total cost of $2.6 million.
This project will transform an 18 acre unused parcel of land into a premiere park for public recreation with an incredible view of the surrounding mountains and the Yellowstone River. In addition to the soccer fields, the park will include landscaping, walking paths, picnic areas, benches, a support facility with restrooms, meeting rooms, concessions and an area for maintenance equipment. There will also be three parking lots to accommodate 140 vehicles.
In October 2007, a Capital Campaign was launched and fundraising began for this 4-phase project. Phase 1 includes building over 7 acres of new green space, over 50 trees, installing picnic tables and park benches, building two soccer fields, a surfaced walking path, and a parking lot – all meeting the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Phase 1 bids were advertised in early 2010 and Phase 1 construction was completed in September 2010. Total costs for the original feasibility studies, project planning and Phase 1 construction totals $725,000. Phase 1 of this project is now finished and open to the public. On August 27, 2011, LYSA hosted the Grand Opening of Phase 1- over 2000 community members visited the park while over 450 LYSA youth soccer players played their first recreational soccer games of the season on the new fields.
Phase 2 final designs and budget were completed in February 2011 for over six acres of new park green space development including two parking lots, trees, picnic tables and benches, the continuation of surfaced walking paths and a third soccer field. Phase 2 is estimated to cost $455,000. Currently, the Northside Park and Soccer Fields Project Capital Campaign committee has raised over half of the needed funds for Phase 2 with the goal of completing the fundraising by February 1, 2012 and construction of Phase 2 by the fall of 2012. Phase 2 would be open to the public 12 months following construction. Funds have been received through matching gifts – $100,000 from Mountain Sky Guest Ranch, $30,000 from Lee and Glynna Freeman, gifts from private individuals, several foundations, and from over 60 local businesses including Livingston Super 8, Matt’s Old Fashioned Meat Shop & Deli, Yellowstone Country Motors, John Sullivan, John Mabie, Stillwater Mining, Solid Rock Foundation, and Lore Kann Foundation.
Phase 3 and 4 includes constructing a support building for bathrooms, concessions, equipment storage, rental space for large events, and a fourth soccer field. These two phases are estimated to cost a combined $900,000 – $1,100,000 and will complete the project in its entirety.
In the end, this project, which has been endorsed by the Livingston Area Chamber of Commerce, will make a great community even better by providing a “People Park” designed for maximum enjoyment by residents and visitors. It will be a gathering place for recreation, relaxation, and sports. Its presence will stimulate the local economy and motels, restaurants and local merchants will realize the economic benefits of soccer clinics, camps, and tournaments held in Livingston. The park will be a place to not only play soccer, but also to have fun and to create family and community memories.