October 10, 2012 10:08:34 AM
Soccer complex critic misguided, ill-informed
It not typical for The Dispatch to publish snarky, anonymous articles. Yet on Friday there it was, "Is Hazel in charge of the Columbus Soccer Complex?" The article was complete with a haughty yet meaningless literary/cinematic reference. The writer seems to be trying to make a point about the intelligence level of those that planned the stunning, new Columbus soccer complex. The article, however, does more to illuminate the writer's lack of experience with similar facilities and the typical usage of this complex.
It was particularly interesting that I received word of the disparaging article as I sat in a United State Soccer Federation Region III meeting in Oklahoma City discussing the bidding process for tournaments at the regional level. Earlier that day I had a meeting with the MSA president at which I received congratulations on the new complex and discussed possible Columbus bids for state tournaments. Yet that afternoon the link to the article, which can do nothing but undermine our chances to get a tournament, appeared on my phone.
Let me address the two points that seem to be addressed--parking and restroom facilities. As to parking--does the writer remember the parking at the Cook complex? Basically there was none. Not only does this facility have 300 spots that allow for street parking, there is also parking available at the Farmers' Market as well as the Convention Center. These lots are a short walk to the fields.
Most complexes have a single parking lot and from there everyone walks (there is that word again.) In Memphis you park and can walk up to a quarter mile back to your field. Saturday morning I toured the facilities in Edmund, Okla, that will host the Region III, Division I championships. It has a large parking lot and then acres of fields to which teams and supporters walk. I took a picture for the anonymous author.
To have ANY street or other parking directly adjacent to the fields is extraordinary and a special attribute of the Columbus facility. Does this mean everyone can park next to the fields? No. However, to be able to do so at all is unusual. If parking is full on the north side supporters can park on the south side and enjoy a very short walk (as compared to other facilities) to their field. Or they can use the two parking lots mentioned above. These are still a short walk as the Columbus facility is quite compact.
Touring the Edmund facility it was noted that it had, you guessed it, one restroom and concession facility. I have not been to a complexes with more than one restroom/concession facility. Yes, some are larger but most are not as nice. Despite this there are plans for a second facility on the south side when money becomes available.
Now to the final point of the article--that we will not be able to host a tournament. I encourage the anonymous author to educate themselves on the process, bidding requirements, and work already done. There is nothing about our parking or restrooms that would hinder a bid. Indeed, myself, Greg Lewis, and Chris Hemphill took the step of having the state technical director to Columbus ahead of the opening to let him see the complex and discuss hosting issues. You may remember that this was covered in The Commercial Dispatch. Clearly the new complex is a vast improvement on Cook and superior to most others.
It should be remembered that a key component of any tournament bid is "community support." Does the bidding location have full community support including the local CVB, vendors, hotels, city government, EMS; and does the location have enough volunteers?
In conclusion, I will quote a less highbrow source, the comedian Louis C. K.: "Everything is great and nobody is happy." We have a great facility and many people working to provide great programs for our youth--almost all of whom are volunteers. The anonymous author is welcome to come out and volunteer.