Jackson soccer park gets $150,000 grant

Wednesday, June 4, 2003

A future soccer complex in Jackson is one step closer to becoming world class, according to a park association official, now that a $150,000 federal grant has been approved.

"This is just absolutely huge," said Jack Litzelfelner Jr., president of the Jackson Soccer Park Association. "This will ensure us of having what I believe will be the finest soccer complex between St. Louis and Memphis."

The 18-field complex will accommodate the city's nearly 1,000 soccer-playing youths, about 70 teams, who currently have only five fields. Construction on a 27-acre plot off Route PP, donated by the Jackson Industrial Development Corporation, began last fall.

Roughly four phases are planned for the complex -- field and parking lot development, an irrigation system, concession stands and a playground, and lighting. The first three phases will cost about $250,000.

Litzelfelner said the association probably has within 80 percent of the total cost. "We can adequately complete the first three phases based on what we have pledged to us," Litzelfelner said, "but we still need money to complete it the way we ultimately envisioned it."

The association applied for the federal grant in September. The full amount was approved last week by the Department of Natural Resources, which will get the money from the National Park Service, said Sam Duncan, secretary of the association. However, only $135,000 will be received due to state administration fees, and it may not be awarded until October.

The association has received about $50,000 from corporate and civic organization sponsors that pledged $100,000, Litzelfelner said.

Lighting, which could cost $60,000 to $100,000, will not be looked at until after the first three phases are completed, Litzelfelner said. To cover it, a grant from the U.S. Soccer Foundation will again be applied for in the fall. The first application was rejected because the foundation was not involved in the early field planning. Litzelfelner said his group will contact the foundation to find out exactly what the grant application requires.

For now, Ron Clark and Sons will continue grading as long as the weather permits, Litzelfelner said. He said he hopes to have the irrigation system, the concession stands and the playground in place by this fall and to have teams using the field by next spring.

"I don't want people to believe that we have all the resources that we need," Duncan said, "but we have had some extremely positive steps. We are going to have a very nice soccer park when this is all done."

335-6611, extension 226

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