I have taken on many special projects in my 45-year career, but none more exciting than the one we are taking on here at Seminole Soccer Complex. We have a 40-acre soccer park that is a resource few clubs in the country can match. I know this can be a place that accelerates learning and provides a fantastic venue for the development of our young players. We have undergone several fundraising efforts over the past year. I want to take a minute to explain to everyone what we’re doing, where the money is going and will go, and how we will achieve our long-term vision.
There are really three stages to our plan. The reality is that it is too big a step to do all at once. The foundation is strong, with a 40-acre complex with 11 fields, all grass, that sits in a prime location and is easily accessible. To be clear, we are in a good place to start. At the same time, I think everyone who has been part of this club realizes we want to bring this complex up to a level that matches the best state-of-the-art complexes in the country so that our young players get the best use out of the facility.
We already invest significantly in our field maintenance. In fact, it costs us more to maintain the fields on an annual basis than it does to hire and retain our top, professional, and experienced coaching staff. It is the area where we invest more than any other part of your club. Ideally, we want to get the most out of our investment by using them as much as possible while also resting the fields more often. Resting the fields more while maximizing their usability would reduce your travel to secondary field locations while also reducing the cost to maintain the fields.
Our first focus in Phase One is lighting the fields at Seminole Soccer Complex. Why lights? We have 54 teams in our competitive programs, plus our other programs. All of those teams and programs have one lighted field for all to share. Even in these challenging times, we have been fortunate to grow and will continue to focus on growing our reach and engagement. Even in the best time of year, when it doesn’t get dark too early, we are pressed for space. We are forced to overuse and stress the lighted stadium field in the winter. While we are able to rent field space at nearby complexes like Boombah, we lose control over the fields and scheduling and must work with the county government. When they elect to close fields, or have other events going on, it leaves us often looking for alternatives when there are none available. We have looked at many different avenues and options. It is apparent we need to be able to host practices and events at later times so that we can get the most use out of our complex. Lights allow us to accomplish that.
What is “The Plan?” The plan is to light two fields by the end of 2022 or early 2023. The last time we received quotes for lights, the cost for such a project is approximately $400,000. We have started with some fundraisers in a long-term capital campaign and have raised a little over 80,000 to date. These capital campaign funds are reserved in a separate account to use toward upgrades and lighting and those funds are not used for any other purpose. That means we are around 20% of our overall goal. You will soon see a marker that represents what we have raised and how far we need to go. Every donation or fundraiser makes a huge difference. Look how far we have come since we started less than a year ago. You will see many events in the coming year which are designed to help us reach our goals. This is something that will benefit everyone, and I couldn’t be more excited about our progress. I hope you will all join me in making every effort to accomplish this goal as quickly as possible.
Please understand, adding lights is just Phase One and just part of the overall long-term goals. In addition to working to add lights to the fields, we have already begun work to improve and upgrade the playing surfaces, and there is so much more to come. In Phase Two, we will look at improving our drainage system and fundraise to turf two fields. Long term, we hope to light two more fields and get to five total lighted fields. We also want to improve the complex amenities and create more access to other state-of-the-art support for our curriculum and training programs. Upgrading the stadium, improved parking, renovated bathrooms, locker rooms and concessions are all in the long-term vision. We are building a place where we can host the best of teams and give our players even more experiences, which only soccer can bring.
I look forward to seeing you out on the fields. Thank you for continuing to support our club and our players.