The grassroots effort to build a soccer complex in west Modesto has received a big assist from the state.
The California Department of Parks and Recreation has awarded $1 million to Modesto to build three soccer fields and a parking lot. Modesto applied for the grant in November.
“This is mind-blowing,” said Gus Calderon, vice president of the Stanislaus Youth Soccer League, which he said serves about 1,300 children in west and south Modesto. “We wanted these fields so bad. We are getting an opportunity to get more help.”
The league has had to scramble to find places to play, and is now renting facilities in Ceres.
The league is working with former Modesto Councilman Brad Hawn on the complex. With the help of local governments and the community, the league’s parents have built two soccer fields and are working on the parking lot. Hawn said the league has raised about $150,000 in cash donations and about the same amount in donated goods and services for the complex.
The league is expected to start using the two fields in August.
Modesto does not have to provide matching funds for the $1 million. Modesto Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods acting Manager Nathan Houx said he expects to bring to the City Council in the fall an agreement between the city and state for the three additional fields and parking lot. He said he expects construction could start in summer 2018, and the fields could be ready for use about a year later. He said it’s important to let the grass get established before it is played on.
The complex is next to Bellenita Park. Both are part of the Tuolumne River Regional Park, which is owned by Modesto, Ceres and Stanislaus County. An agreement between the soccer league and the regional park lets the soccer league build two fields and maintain all five of them.
Houx said the soccer complex will be open to the public, but the league will have priority in its use.
“The State was very excited to let us know that they would be able to recommend our project for funding as they loved the project and the partnership with Stanislaus Youth Soccer League when they came for a site visit,” Houx wrote in an email to local officials about the grant award.
The $1 million for Modesto was among the $16 million the California Department of Parks and Recreation awarded to 25 projects across the state, according to a department news release. The release states the money is for youth recreation in “heavily populated, low-income urban areas with a high-youth-crime and unemployment rate.”
Kevin Valine: 209-578-2316