Soccer draws a great deal of attention because it is a fast growing sport in the country, and the demand is placing a need for more fields in Merced.
There is a 38-acre site in south Merced, located at Tyler and Mission Avenues, that the city purchased in 2007. Originally intended for a joint-use soccer/sports complex with the Merced Union High School District, those plans changed when the district built El Capitan High School in North Merced.
Some 30 residents showed up at City Hall on Monday night to offer ideas on what to do with the site, and how to add more soccer fields for the growing numbers of soccer players.
The meeting was initiated by Mayor Pro Tem Matthew Serratto, and he was present, along with soccer committee members, Councilmen Anthony Martinez and Fernando Echevarria.
City Manager Steve Carrigan and Assistant City Manager Stephanie Dietz thanked those who showed up and urged residents to express their ideas and come up with a unified voice so that the project could be successful.
They said this week’s brainstorming session would be turned into an updated city staff plan, followed by another community meeting in about a month. With a solid vision in place, a proposal would later be sent to the Merced City Council for direction. Then the idea is to create a community campaign for the project, and start to seek fundraising opportunities, as well as state and federal grants that are available for parks and recreation.
Among the many ideas brought up at the meeting were:
- Partnerships with top national soccer associations.
- Create top-notch fields to attract more soccer enthusiasm.
- Versatile fields to host “beach soccer” and volleyball events.
- Sponsorships, and naming the park after a top donor.
- Trees for shade, and shade structures.
- Wi-Fi availability.
- Training facility, team/coaching rooms.
- Solar power options for lighting, etc.
- Bathrooms that are maintained.
- Security cameras, and fencing.
- Grass versus turf for the soccer fields, or a combination of both.