September 25, 2012 10:28:44 AM
As duly noted in Sunday's edition of The Dispatch, there is much to like about the Columbus Soccer Complex, which had its grand opening on Saturday.
Well over a thousand soccer and football players, coaches, parents and community leaders turned out for the event. Almost everyone was effusive in their praise of the venue ...
Until about an hour after it opened, when the first "calls of nature" began to stir among the masses.
It was at that point that the complex's most obvious flaw suddenly became, well, obvious.
There is only one restroom complex, two small restrooms connected to the lone concession stand, itself very small. To complicate matters, the restroom/concession stand is located at the north end of the 70-acre complex, which stretches roughly from Third Avenue North to Seventh Avenue North.
Not only are the restroom accommodations woefully inadequate, they are most inconveniently located. It figures to be a long walk to a crowded destination.
Sports complex officials are quick to say that more restrooms will be part of the next phase of additions.
The expense of building more restrooms, they say, was prohibitive during the first phase.
But this is hardly convincing. Restrooms are not amenities, like landscaping or even bleachers. Anyone who has taken a 9-year-old anywhere will tell you that restrooms are an absolutely necessity. They are not "Phase 2" items.
Those who worked so hard to make the complex a reality were brimming with pride on Saturday, confident that the facility has no equal in the state. Dreams of drawing big tournaments abound.
Until the next phase of construction is complete -- and when that will happen is dependent on attracting the necessary financing --complex officials say they'll bring in portable restrooms to accommodate the large crowds the tournaments will bring.
Portable restrooms are not something to put on promotional materials, but visitors will certainly make note of them when they arrive. There's nothing first-class about such an arrangement, even if everything else about the complex is first-rate.
While there is much to like about the new complex -- not the least among them the cooperation between the City of Columbus and Lowndes County that made it possible -- the lack of adequate restroom facilities at the sparkling new $5-million complex is an omission that cannot be ignored.
It is regrettable.
The solution cannot come quickly enough.