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Future soccer complex could cost Springfield taxpayers up to $2 million for infrastructure improvements

Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 9:59 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Springfield is one step closer to gaining a major athletic complex.

But there’s a catch.

If built, the city will agree to pay millions to the developer for improvement costs.

“When they get out they’re ready to go. They need the activity. They need to get out and have that outlet. Soccer is one of those sports that really allows that, says Southern Commissioner for the Missouri Youth Soccer Association John Markey.

He believes a new soccer complex would be beneficial.

“It gives us the ability to bring out in a higher level of competition for players here, to be able to see that level of competition and have a little more to aspire to. All the way across the board it’s going to be a big deal for them,” he said.

Slated to be built near the Springfield-Branson Regional Airport just off Chestnut Expressway, the complex would include a dozen outdoor soccer fields, including a championship venue with seating for 1500 spectators. Also included in the plans is a 90,000 square foot facility with indoor fields and basketball courts. Additionally, retail space, restaurants and a hotel will be built.

But first, the plot of land needs roads, water, electricity. The public infrastructure to be paid for by taxpayers.

“It is a risk. Typically the developer would take the risk. In this case, the city is bearing the risk,” said Director of Economic Development for Springfield, Sarah Kerner.

The risk doesn’t always pays off.

About eight years ago the city partnered with Mercy Hospitals on a project to develop Evans Road, just off highway 65, near the roundabout. Taxpayer money was used to cover nearly half of the upfront costs of the infrastructure improvements which cost more than $800,000. The area has yet to be commercially developed. The city has yet to get its money back.

However, there is a difference this time around.

Kerner said, “We’re not giving them the money now. They do have to build it. They have to borrow the money and build the thing and then as soon as it’s built we’ll pay them. If something happens and their project falls apart the city is off the hook.”

A one cent sales tax will be added to goods and services developed at the complex. That money will used to reimburse the city.

Markey says its money that the taxpayers can get back if the project is a success.

“Probably somewhere around $12 million a year in economic impact where tournaments have been cancelled or not being able to bring them here. Financially for the city that’s a big deal. Everything that we can do is going to enhance everything for the whole community as well not just the soccer families,” he said.

Council will vote on the project March 8th.

If approved the developer has 3 years to complete building before qualifying for reimbursement of their costs, up to $2 million.

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