Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rick Graham, public works director for Salt Lake City talks about the construction that is moving along on the new Salt Lake City soccer complex alongside the Jordan River in North Salt Lake where the underlying infrastructure has been laid. By August of 2015 the 160 acres should be fully transformed into 15 multi-use fields primarily used for soccer and one stadium field.
After delays and lawsuits, SLC soccer complex taking shape
$22.8M project » With the infrastructure largely in place, the fields are expected to hold first events in August 2015.
First Published Jun 02 2014 04:38 pm • Last Updated Jun 03 2014 10:31 am

When Salt Lake City residents voted in favor of a $15.3 million bond to build a soccer complex in 2003, the Utah Youth Soccer Association had 35,000 members. Sports such as lacrosse and rugby that use similar fields were in their infancy in Utah.

Now, with 53,000 kids playing in the UYSA alone, plus adult and high school soccer leagues and growing interest in lacrosse, every school field and city park open space that can be used for these sports is utilized, sometimes seven days a week. Parents often have to drive miles to find a piece of open grass where their kids can learn to play soccer.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The logjam is about to ease up.

After more than a decade of delay, progress is being made on Salt Lake City’s $22.8 million soccer complex between Interstate 215 and the Jordan River at 1900 W. 2200 North. Most of the electrical, water and drainage infrastructure is in place. Crews will begin to lay sod on the 16 fields in late August and the first events are scheduled in August 2015.

The facility’s first phase will include a stadium with 500 permanent seats and the capability to expand to 7,500 for a major event. The complex also will include six lighted fields; two rest-rooms; lighted parking areas; vending and concession area; a maintenance facility and a trailhead. Future development could include more soccer fields and some baseball diamonds if and when money becomes available.

"There is demand for this," said Rick Graham, Public Services Department director for Salt Lake City. "With all of these active and popular community things, the city feels it has an obligation as best it can to meet those needs."

Why will it have taken 12 years from the time voters passed the bond to the opening of a complex that was originally expected to include 25 soccer fields and eight baseball diamonds?

Part of the problem is that few pieces of open space remain in Salt Lake City. The 160-acre tract — about the size of an average 18-hole golf course — that was selected was on wetlands adjacent to the Jordan River.

After the city obtained the proper permits from the Army Corps of Engineers to mitigate for wetlands loss, environmental groups sued both the city and the federal agency. Construction began in 2010 but was stopped in 2011 when the Jordan River Restoration Network filed suit in 3rd District Court. This action sought to overturn the city council’s August 2010 rezone of the area.

The city eventually prevailed in court and now big earth movers are clearing and leveling the area.

story continues below
story continues below

The complex includes a three-acre wetland site and 23 acres of riparian protection along the Jordan River.

The city received $7.5 million from the Real Salt Lake soccer team as part of a deal to build Rio Tinto Stadium.

"This is an enormously and necessary thing, giving kids a chance to play," RSL general manager Garth Lagerway said, noting that more kids playing soccer translates into more kids becoming soccer fans.

He said the team has begun to establish a youth soccer footprint in the valley, recruiting players as young as 12 into a new, Salt Lake City-based location for its academy program, which is based in Arizona.

However, Real Salt Lake apparently has no special field privileges at the new soccer facility.

"There is no guarantee that they have for any uses or any space here," Graham said. "They have been an excellent partner."

RSL’s $7.5 million matching donation was a condition for issuing the bonds.

At last fall’s groundbreaking, RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen called the construction of the fields historic for Salt Lake and the region.

"Today, we are standing on a true field of dreams where 50,000 youth will play soccer on 16 fields," he said. "It’s been a rocky road to get here, but. ... we reaffirm that [$7.5 million] commitment."

Andrew Hiatt, UYSA CEO, said the facility will be the only one of its kind in the state.

"It is as professional as you can get," he said, adding his organization is already talking about holding national and regional championships at the site.

Next Page >

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.