Work begun on new Batesville soccer complex

By Emily Van Zandt Originally Published December 20, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated December 19, 2012 at 11:48 a.m.
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This is an artist’s rendering of the new soccer complex in Batesville, scheduled to be completed in 2014.

— Construction has begun on a new soccer complex in Batesville, one of many city recreation projects slated for the upcoming months.

Funding for the complex, as well as new baseball fields, a new aquatic center and a new community center, comes from a 1-cent citywide sales tax passed in March.

Ground was broken on the soccer complex two weeks ago, said city parks and recreation director Jeff Owens. The project has a 240-day contract with Stonebridge Construction LLC of Jonesboro.

“The contractor optimistically said he’d like to be done at the end of March, but that’s pretty aggressive,” Owens said. If all goes smoothly, fall soccer leagues will be able to use the field. Even if construction is completed in March, it will take months for the sod on the fields to take root, making fall the earliest it will be ready for play, Owens said.

The total cost of the complex will likely be around $1.2 million, Owens said. That includes the cost of a concession stand that has not been put up for bid yet.

The soccer complex will feature concession and bathroom facilities, along with six smaller, unlit soccer fields and two large, lighted soccer fields.

“We have plans to occasionally break them up into smaller fields or use them as the bigger, regulation-sized fields for high school or college games,” Owens said.

Part of the design process for the larger fields included being able to rotate the positions of the goals on the field to reduce wear in concentrated areas.

Though the new fields will not be that much bigger than the previous soccer facilities in Batesville, Owens said, the older fields were “in pretty bad shape and [had] some safety concerns.”

“When they were built, it was basically, ‘Let’s take some grass and put some goals on it,’” Owens said. “They didn’t train, they had rocks in them and the light poles were literally 3 to 5 feet from the playing surface.”

The new complex also comes at a time when soccer is growing in popularity in the town. When the city took over operations of the local soccer program, enrollment jumped from 200 to 600 participants ages 5-12.

“Soccer is growing rapidly in this area, as it is everywhere,” Owens said.

The soccer complex will be the first of the handful of planned parks projects to be completed. Construction is being staggered to keep current recreation services from being interrupted. Next on the department’s list will be a new baseball complex, followed by a new community center and aquatics center.

“It’s our hope to start breaking ground to start the community center and aquatics park some time in July,” Owens said. All projects may be completed by the end of 2014, but as Owens said, “that’s pushing it.”

Batesville Mayor Rick Elumbaugh said the new construction will bring both economic and health benefits to the community and to Independence County.

“Most of our [recreation] facilities are over 30 years old,” Elumbaugh said. “We’ve outgrown our athletic fields and our aquatic facilities are over 60 years of age. … It’s really a quality-of-life benefit that will give our citizens a place for recreation for years to come.”

Staff writer Emily Van Zandt can be reached at (501) 399-3688 or evanzandt@arkansasonline.com.

Staff Writer Emily Van Zandt can be reached at 501-399-3688 or emily@syncweekly.com.

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