The city will show off its new Mary Grogan Community Park soccer complex Saturday with a grand-opening ceremony that includes soccer clinics, exhibition matches and a free community barbecue.
Modesto spent about $10 million over the past year to build the first phase of the 42-acre park, which is just east of Enochs High School in northeast Modesto. Phase one consists of seven lighted soccer fields, a 500-space parking lot, an office and concession stand, and a lighted walking path around the park.
This is the first soccer complex in the city, and the first home for the roughly 3,000 children in the Modesto Youth Soccer Association. The association has held its matches in more than a dozen sites throughout the city.
The public is invited to the ceremony, which will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and includes an appearance by three-time Olympic discus thrower Suzy Powell-Roos of Modesto.
The MYSA has partnered with the city on the soccer complex. In exchange for 4,000 hours of annual use, the MYSA will operate the park and pay part of its maintenance costs.
More information about Saturday is available on the MYSA’s Facebook page.
UP, UP AND AWAY: This week, I wrote about how Modesto officials are drumming up support among local governments, businesses and chambers of commerce for passenger air service to Los Angeles.
The Modesto airport has daily flights to San Francisco International Airport, but that route has seen a steady drop in passengers and its service is unreliable.
Modesto officials believe air service to Los Angeles is a winner because Southern California is the No. 1 destination for passengers flying out of Modesto. They now catch — or don’t catch, if their flight has been delayed — connecting flights in San Francisco.
But Stanislaus County residents can fly to Los Angeles International if they are willing to drive to Merced. The Merced Airport has been offering LA flights for two years through Great Lakes Airlines, which uses 19-passenger aircraft.
Merced Airport Manager Ron Elliott said the flights have been a success in part because about a quarter of the University of California at Merced’s roughly 5,000 students are from the Los Angeles Basin. The airport’s proximity to Yosemite National Park also helps. But Elliott said a significant number of the passengers are from Stanislaus County.
The federal government subsidizes the LA service, paying Great Lakes $1.9 million this year. The airline gets the subsidy to serve Merced, one of four “essential air service” airports in California.
The federal government established the essential air service program after it deregulated the airline industry in 1978 to ensure airlines would continue to serve small, rural airports.
But Modesto officials believe they can land air service to Los Angeles. Public Works Director Dennis Turner said in the city’s conversations with more than a half-dozen airlines, none has mentioned Merced as a reason not to come to Modesto. He added that talks are promising with a couple of airlines.