County youth sports grant finalizes soccer field project

Outdoor soccer is one of the more popular programs for youth in Brooklyn Center during the spring and summer, said Kelly Mertes, the recreation program supervisor for the city.

With 150 kids in the program this year – a number more than the registration for softball and t-ball combined, Mertes said they were running out of fields to use.

In July the city even converted one of the softball fields at Centennial Park, adjacent to city hall and the community center on Shingle Creek Parkway, into a temporary space to accommodate the growing number of participants in the soccer program, she said.

“It makes better use of an underutilized softball field,” Mertes said.

Now that space will be transformed again into four permanent soccer fields with funding, $116,500, from the Hennepin Youth Sports program.

The grant will help complete the conversion of the fields with funding for installation of an irrigation system, nets, bleachers and other site improvements, said Jim Glasoe, director of Community Activities, Recreation and Services for the city of Brooklyn Center.

The total project budget is estimated to be $166,000, including the grant from Hennepin County, a donation from the Luther car dealership in Brooklyn Center and dollars from the city’s Capital Improvement Fund, Glasoe said.

The city received the news about the grant this fall.

There will not be enough time to finish the project before the temporary fields are needed again for the soccer program in the spring, Mertes said.

When the fields are complete, there will be long-term benefits for the city’s youth soccer program, its partnership with Brooklyn Area Soccer through the Brooklyn Park Athletic Association and the community as a whole, Glasoe said.

“This is very fortuitous to us,” he said.

According to Mertes, it is also a benefit to have multiple fields for a youth soccer program in one location.

Parents with kids of different ages who participate in soccer will just have to make one stop at Centennial Park, she explained.

Also the fields are in proximity to two playgrounds in the park and the Brooklyn Center Community Center, which provides activities for parents with other children who are not in the soccer program, Mertes said.

There is also ample parking for visitors, she said.

The permanent fields will be added in August of 2013, after the next soccer season.