Is Galesburg ready for soccer?

by Norm Winick

The City's Soccer committee is getting close to making a recommendation to the Galesburg City Council with their suggestions for a new soccer complex. Ray Kimbell, spokesman for the group, says that the study conducted by Teska and Associates gave them a good start. ''They surveyed seven possible sites. We narrowed it down to four and will probably recommend a location across Carl Sandburg Drive from Hawthorne Centre. It seems to provide the best combination of adequate, affordable land and convenience.''

While that is one of the original sites suggested in the Teska study, the committee will recommend using the layout designed for the Log City Trail location. ''By using that arrangement, we get more efficient use of the land and the parking area will be located so that it can be shared by people using the baseball fields across the street.'' Kimbell acknowledges that crossing East Carl Sandburg Drive, now a dead-end street, may not be safe if the road is extended, as ultimately planned, to Farnham Street. If they build that bridge over the railroad, we would hope they'd include a pedestrian tunnel so kids don't have to cross the street.''

Kimbell said the committee, made up of community members, soccer coaches and representatives of District #205 and the YMCA has worked diligently on this project. ''We've had nine meetings; we've toured every one of the proposed sites plus several others; we've called and visited other cities. The more we worked on this, the more we realized that we need this complex; towns a lot smaller than us have better facilities -- and they're well-used. Now it's our job to convince the City Council.''

''Galesburg only has two good fields dedicated to soccer. One is at the High School and it's adjacent to neighbors' back yards. It can never be lighted so games are often called on account of darkness; there's no parking. It's so close to the softball field they can't play games simultaneously. The other field is at Costa School and, while they have been very cooperative, it's private. Neither has permanent restroom facilities. There are several football fields but the season is the same and they aren't wide enough. Soccer, like basketball, is a game of triangles and passing. Football is a straight-ahead game. A soccer field should be 75 yards wide compared to a football field's 55-yard width.''

Kimbell estimates (conservatively, he says) that at least 675 area residents of all ages play soccer in Galesburg. ''That includes kids as young as kindergartners up through adults. They deserve a decent place to play.''

''Without a decent multiple-field facility, we can't even host tournaments. The River City Shootout in Peoria fills up their hotels and motels and people even stay in Galesburg.''

The proposal, expected to be brought before the City Council at their April 15th meeting, will include considerable cost savings from the Teska study. ''We've cut 80 percent of the costs associated with preparing the soil; this is good Illinois land -- not an old factory site. We also will propose to do it in phases. We need to start by purchasing the land, about 33 acres, and then schedule construction. The parking area doesn't have to be paved right from the start. I think we'll be able to get donations to help with the cost of lights and scoreboards. There is state and federal grant money available once this project gets the green light. We don't have to build all eight fields at once.''

Kimbell says that he hopes soccer players and their families will show up at the meeting on the 15th to show support for a soccer complex. ''We've done our work and will continue but the Council must be convinced it's something the city needs.''

Uploaded to The Zephyr website April 6, 2002

Back to The Zephyr home page at: