Minnesota Youth Soccer Association (MYSA) members will be revisiting a vote on a $17 million state-of-the-art field complex in Monticello during the organization’s annual meeting on Saturday, Nov. 2 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
MYSA is the governing body for youth soccer in the state of Minnesota — serving more than 70,000 soccer players and 140 member clubs — and the organization’s general membership will vote on the 24-field proposal after getting voted down a year ago.
“Very little has changed in what we are proposing this year as opposed to last year,” said Candace Daley, executive director of the Minnetonka-based non-profit organization, when referring to last November’s unsuccessful vote that fell just short. “Based on feedback that we received after our general annual meeting, we made the decision that we were going to give the Monticello-based field proposal another go, and announced that to all of our MYSA member clubs in January.”
Daley said some clubs needed a little more time and more information.
“We certainly understood that because we are a membership organization,” she said.
The St. Croix Soccer Club was among those who voted no a year ago, but director of coaching Nathan Klonecki said the club will voting yes this time around.
“We voted no last year and the main reason was there was no financial information,” Klonecki said. “This was something we were interested in, but didn’t have enough background information.”
A representative from the MYSA attended a SCSC board meeting to provide additional information and the local club is encouraged by and supportive of the plans going forward.
“The concept is something that I think is great for the state of soccer and you can host bigger events regionally,” Klonecki said. “Honestly, the distance is not ideal for us, but it wouldn’t be a day-to-day thing for us so that works well.”
In fact, the ability of MYSA to host some larger events will likely cut down on some travel for some of the club’s more competitive teams.
Most observers expect a closer vote this time around, but Klonecki said he is unsure about state-wide support for this ambitious project. Each club gets one vote per 100 participants and as one of the fourth or fifth largest in the state, the SCSC will have about 10 or 11 votes on Saturday.
“I do know some clubs have split their vote, but we usually try to be unanimous,” Klonecki said. “We had some reservations obviously, but in the long run we felt it would be a wise choice to do.”
If approved, the MYSA would increase its fees $4 for each registered player to cover the cost of this new facility.
After getting voted down a year ago, MYSA hired the Risdell Marketing Group, an independently owned advertising agency based in New Brighton, to help with its communications effort.
“The first part of this year, and shortly after that, we made the decision to hire an outside consultant to get the word out to the players and their families,” Daly said. “We had front page articles in our July and September issues of the Minnesota Soccer Times and contacted our member clubs’ presidents and boards.”
The centerpiece of the facility on 125 acres of land outside of Monticello would be a stadium field with artificial turf, lights and bleacher seating for 3,500, with the capacity to add another 3,500 seats, Daley wrote in a July Minnesota Soccer Times story. Located behind a 15,000-square-foot main building that will house the Minnesota Youth Soccer state office, meeting rooms, locker rooms and storage would be another field with artificial turf and lights. This field could be domed.
Jeff O’Neill, Monticello city administrator, said that proposed 125-acre MYSA field complex site, which has been dubbed “Minnesota’s Home Field,” is currently surrounded by the 1,200-acre Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park being developed by the city, Wright County and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
“Last year at this time, we had worked out arrangements for the sale of the land to MYSA,” O’Neill said. “That situation hasn’t changed. We are eagerly waiting to hear what they have to say.”
According to O’Neill, $20.5 million worth of investments in the Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park has really helped leverage interest in the nearby property MYSA wants to use and future local economic development that could possibly occur.
“It would not be a city project, per se, but there would be planning and zoning issues that we would need to address,” O’Neill said.
Zoning Administrator Sean Riley said MYSA’s project would require a conditional use amendment to Wright County zoning ordinance.
If the MYSA figures out its long-term plan, the organization will have to approach the county, Riley said.
“The location is still Monticello,” Daley said. “We continue to feel very strongly that it’s the best location for our complex and what we are looking to do in our state as well as regionally and nationally. It’s important that we have a strong, local strategic partner. We feel we have that in Monticello. Our state is ranked 15th nationally in youth soccer participants. Having our own field headquarters positions us for growth. Hopefully, our membership will see it the same way.”
Stuart Groskreutz contributed to this story