Monday , February 29, 2016 - 6:00 AM
OGDEN — Just under a year since work began on the Spence Eccles Ogden Community Sports Complex, the Ogden facility is expected to officially open its doors to local athletes in mid-May.
Ultimately, the complex will feature two fields, as well as a building for ticket sales, concessions and restrooms. Work is still underway on sidewalks, landscaping, bleachers, the building and more, but turf has already been placed on the fields, allowing Ogden City School District sports teams to use them.
Plans for the complex came together after local coaches, players and parents pointed out a need for more soccer fields. Some schools were using parks’ fields, resulting in crowded conditions, parking issues and other problems.
But in 2013, a group called the Ogden Community Soccer Complex Committee worked with Ogden School District to get land for the project and partnered with Ogden School Foundation to seek additional funding. The first shovels of dirt were turned March 12, 2015, at the project site, which is which is just northeast of the district administration building, 1950 Monroe Blvd.
“It’s got to be one of the most picturesque sports complexes in northern Utah,” said Zac Williams, spokesman for the district, referring to the mountains that serve as a backdrop to the fields.
One of the two finished fields is for soccer, and the other is for soccer, football and lacrosse, said Ogden School Foundation Executive Director Janis Vause. It’s possible a third field will be added as well.
Two of the district’s boys soccer teams started using the finished fields in January, and a girls team even played on one of them last fall.
“(The boys teams) have been doing winter conditioning here four or five times a week,” said Ken Crawford, Ogden schools’ athletic director. “It’s a huge advantage they haven’t had before.”
Part of the advantage is that artificial turf can be cleared of snow more easily than grass fields can. In years past, when grass fields were covered with snow and became muddy, the teams had to practice in a gym.
“The ball bounces a lot different on a gym floor,” Crawford said.
And that’s not the only benefit of playing on turf.
“The turf feels better,” said Juan Palafox, a soccer player from Ogden High. “The ball’s more balanced when you pass.”
The complex won’t just be for local schools, though — it’s going to be available to other sports groups in the community.
“We’re already working with other organizations,” said Vause. “We’ve had many calls from lacrosse leagues because of the shortage of these fields in our area.”
The district hasn’t advertised the fact that other groups can use the fields since the whole complex isn’t finished, but rental rates and information are posted on Ogden City School District’s website.
Vause noted that many community members banded together to make the complex a reality. The George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation donated $1 million to the project, resulting in its name being changed to the Spence Eccles Ogden Community Sports Complex in August 2015. A group of contractors also took it upon themselves to get in touch with other contractors and request donated materials and labor for the project.
“We haven’t run the numbers totally yet, but I’m thinking it’s probably between $300,000 and $400,000 in donated materials and labor,” Vause said.
Osman Aguilar, who plays soccer for Ogden High, said the complex is a step up from the parks where the school’s teams once played.
“They gave us our own home field,” he said. “We’ve finally got this turf field, and they’ve put a lot of money into it, so we’ve got to respect it, but it’s good because it’s for the girls and for us. It just feels good — we’ve finally got our own personal place.”
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