How much did Fayetteville’s new soccer complex cost? When did the initial plan for a U12 (12 and under) field for young kids to play soccer become a competition soccer field? Will this be a good investment for the city as a whole? These and other questions have been raised by city residents and discussed in length during numerous Board of Mayor and Alderman meetings, committee meetings and work sessions for several months.
At the request of Vice Mayor Danny Bryant, who sits on the Finance and Audit Committee, Finance Director Stacey Rozell put together a LRPF Soccer Complex Cost Analysis last week to show “Actual Cost” and “Value Cost.” Footnotes show the “percentages paid through bond fund, Capital funds and no cost to the city.”
Bryant said the original plans for the soccer complex using the $500,000 grant were changed by former City Administrator Scott Collins in Parks & Recreation Committee meetings, but were never submitted to the Finance Department, in work sessions or to the Board of Mayor and Alderman. The plans and scope of the project committed expenditures of taxpayer money. Bryant said when the board learned of the changes and began questioning Collins, his answers were “murky,” adding, “That’s just one of the reasons he’s no longer with the city.”
When the board realized the soccer complex plans had changed and the cost had increased, “we could have given up the bond money and not built the soccer complex. But, what do we say to Daikin? And we have this valuable piece of property that didn’t cost the city anything.
“We were put in the position of ‘give it up or make it happen,’” Bryant said. “In the end we have a professional soccer field that can be used by more people and is a great benefit to the city.”
He said the idea of the soccer complex was “to do something for our youth. There is so much more potential for future use.” Bryant said the city is landlocked and this is a large piece of property that isn’t in a flood zone. All our other parks get flooded.
“This is a big plus for the city,” Bryant added.
The vice mayor said when extra funds were needed for the project, the board checked with the state about using the $206,000 Urban Development Action Grant (UDAG) fund.
“We got a written consent from the state,” Bryant said. “That money had been sitting in a fund for years.”
The UDAG program, a principal urban policy innovation of the Carter administration enacted in October 1977 as section 119 of the Housing and Community Development Act, was intended to stimulate economic recovery in America’s most distressed urban areas.
In authorizing the program, Congress provided specific instructions concerning who was to receive action grants but said little about what recipients could do with the money. The law states that UDAG funds should go “to severely distressed cities and urban counties to help alleviate physical and economic deterioration through reclamation of neighborhoods that have excessive housing abandonment or deterioration, and through community revitalization in areas with population outmigration or a stagnating or declining tax base.”
Irrigation cost for the soccer complex of $83,130 and lighting cost of $136,977 to Musco Lighting, which totaled $220,107, was included in the $5.1 million, 20-year bond issue approved by the BOMA last November, and $168,813.66 came from capital funding. The project’s total cost to city taxpayers is $388,920.00, according to the analysis.
Alderman Jeff Alder, who serves on the Finance and Audit Committee, said he agrees with the cost analysis, adding that the UDAG money hadn’t been used in 10 years. “Granted, this money could have gone to something else.
“I am totally for the soccer complex and feel it’s good for our youth,” Alder said. “Having nice playing fields is something we can be proud of.”
He said the soccer complex can be used by young kids just learning to play soccer to encourage them to want to keep playing the game.
Alder said when parents of local players and those from visiting teams attend games, this adds to the local economy and supports local businesses.
Both Bryant and Alder acknowledge the complex will have ongoing maintenance costs, which, they say is no different than other city property. They anticipate being able to obtain future grants for restrooms, paved parking, a concession stand, etc.
Alderman Tonya Allen, who is on the Parks & Recreation Committee, said she is proud to have the soccer complex for the youth of the community.
Alderman Donna Hartman said she supports providing activities for all youth, but the cost of the soccer complex “has gone a long way from the original purpose. This project started when Jon Law was mayor. He went to Daikin on behalf of young kids at Eighth District School who played on a non-marked field and used their jackets as bases. Now we have an agreement with the city school system to use the field most of the year, which isn’t what the deed states.”
She said the project was put out for bid in January 2021 and had to be completed before September, which was the grant deadline.
“Baseline was the only company to bid on this project,” she said. “Why were local companies not allowed to bid?”
Hartman also said she sees “a lot of creative accounting in the cost analysis. The city robbed every account it could to reduce the cost. The UDAG grant and bond money are still taxpayers’ money. At the end of the day, the taxpayer still has to pay for this soccer field that shouldn’t have cost anything if we had stayed with the original plans.”
Efforts to reach Aldermen Dorothy Small and Roger Martinez were not successful by press time.
How the plan began
Acquiring the land began when then-City Mayor Jon Law initiated talks with Daikin Houston headquarters. During those talks, Law stated that the city has long recognized the need for lighted soccer fields with sidewalks, a graveled parking area, fencing, bleachers and signage.
Daikin donated 14 acres valued at $600,000 located next to its radar range building in 2016 “as a way to honor Fayetteville employees for their years of service building Goodman and Amana brand heating and air conditioning products.”
The Warranty Deed from “Goodman Company, L.P.” to the City of Fayetteville is subject to the following restrictions: “(i) the property shall be used as a municipal park and sports field only; (ii)the property may not be resold, donated or leased (other than temporary leases pursuant to the use set forth in item (i) above) for a period of 10 years from the date hereof; (iii) the property may not be titled or given a name of a person, company, corporation, business, organization (of any kind or character), governmental or quasi-governmental agency, family name, religious group, religious organization or any such similar nomenclature for a period of 25 years from the date hereof; (iv) the property shall not be used for profit or commercial concessions, other than concessions and other activities ancillary to the use set forth in item (i) above; (v) all ad valorem taxes on the property shall be paid by (the city) in full annually; and, (vi) notwithstanding any of the foregoing restrictions to the contrary, at least one field on the property shall remain available at all times for community use separate and apart from any organized sports leagues authorized by (the city) to use the property, it being the intent of the Grantor (Goodman) that at such sports field remain open for public, non-organized use at all times.”
According to records, the city applied for and was granted a $500,000 local Parks and Recreation Fund Grant by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) in February 2016. It had to be used by September 2021. The state only allowed the city to use $500,000 of the land value for its share of the matching grant. The city was looking at a $1 million investment at the onset of the project with no additional cost to taxpayers.
In April 2018, the original plan was to have a U12 field for young kids to play. The grant covered the plan 100%.