New soccer park in Charlottesville?

The Soccer Organization of Charlottesville is seeking to build, and build big near its current facility on Polo Grounds Road.

The project proposal consists of an outdoor, lit, synthetic surface, full-size soccer field; a small, indoor soccer field with synthetic surface; two mini-soccer fields suitable for pick-up play and training; and the club’s permanent offices.

The lit field will feature the highest technology “dark sky” lighting, using the lowest possible safe lighting level for soccer use, ensuring minimal disruption.  SOCA has committed to making the project a model for other users demonstrating that athletic lighting can be both effective and responsible.  Further, SOCA has agreed to limit use of the lights to five months per year, leaving the lights off the remaining seven, and never on beyond 9:30 pm.  No public address or amplified sound system has been proposed as part of the project.

I received an email yesterday seeking Realtors to speak in favor of this proposed soccer facility.

Some neighbors in nearby subdivisions believe their property values could be adversely affected (specifics not sited yet but I’m thinking traffic count and lights).  A Realtor was scheduled to be there and is now unable to make it.  This agent was going to say that property value is in the eye of the buyer and that the added facilities could just as easily attract potential buyers as dissuade them from buying- that it would likely not affect property values.

Can anybody speak definitively to an increase or decrease in property values? Absolutely not. Is there a strong likelihood that property values will be enhanced? Yes.

The Daily Progress has a decent story today outlining some of the reasons that nearby residents oppose this new facility.

“I’m going to have a warehouse building, a lighted playing field and 96 parking spaces 200 feet from my front door and we’re supposed to like that?” Tony Iachetta said. “I’m supposed to like that? I have nothing against soccer. That [facility] is not appropriate around our place.”

The reality is that this is a much-needed facility that will serve to enhance all property values by providing an asset that the community can use (assuming that in practice, this is the case). Assuming the County can negotiate the public’s right to use the facility, this would definitely be a “good thing,” perhaps something similar to the relationship the County has with Crozet Park. Assuming SOCA will share, this will be a great addition to our area. On the flip side, the value of the property to those who currently live there may be, and will be in the case of Mr. Iachetta, devalued. If not here, adjacent to the existing facility, then where should they build it?

The County of Albemarle needs this facility, and probably could support at least one more. SOCA expects to have 9,500 player registrations in 2007 – and more are picking up the game every day. Having the necessary facilities would only help more players.

From the same email:

Clearly, soccer needs a boost.  For those not keeping count; we were winless in last year’s World Cup.  Opposing teams scored as many goals for us as we did for ourselves (which is to say, 1).  We finished 5 points behind Ghana in our division (Ghana? Yes, Ghana) and Czech fans made fun of us at Buffalo Wild Wings.

I am unsure how this quote by a SOCA rep is relevant:

“We live in a time when people are up at arms with tax assessments. That’s why we’re offering to provide a recreation facility that will serve thousands of children at no cost to county residents” …

So, if assessments had not been skyrocketing, you wouldn’t be offering to provide this facility? In light of the fact that assessments are rising, surely the County cannot afford to do this on its own, and the SOCA organization is positioned to finance and build this much-needed facility. But rising assessments are why you’re offering this facility? No cost to residents? Who will pay for the road improvements and probable stop light?

It would be nice if SOCA would post an artists’ rendering, traffic counts and other related data so that the public can review it before the hearing.

SOCA gets credit for motivating its people. Between the emails, the postcards, interviews, etc., they should have quite a gathering at tonight’s public hearing. Personally, I won’t be able to attend, as I will be coaching at my daughter’s soccer practice.

Update 12 April 2007: Supervisors say No to the Soccer Park   Funny time for the Supes to choose to follow the Comp Plan.
Update #2: SOCA’s denial is mentioned in a thread at cvillenews – here and here.

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3 Comments

  1. TrvlnMn April 11, 2007 at 13:11

    1. Light Pollution
    2. Noise Pollution (added traffic and people)

    Soccer isn’t a big sport in the U.S. because the networks won’t spend the “football” type of money to shoot/film the game for broadcast. So it ends up looking like a bunch of ant’s chasing an aspirin back and forth across a green table.

    The U.S. doesn’t ever win the World Cup because the U.S. soccer franchises do not spend the same amount of money in “player salaries” that other countries do. The U.S. soccer franchises are the equivalent of the Baseball minor leagues when compared to other countries. So during the world cup you get an all star minor league team (the U.S.) going up up against Major league teams.

    I’m not a sports fan, I wouldn’t be likely to use it, so for me this would be a permanent loss of real estate. However you make a great point about arriving at some sort of “Binding” agreement that the facility serve a public function. That makes it a little more palatable.

  2. Jeremy Hart April 11, 2007 at 15:22

    We’re dealing with a similar situation here in Blacksburg – the school board wants to build a new high school football stadium on farmland adjacent to a major subdivision. The neighbors are up in arms about lights and noise, although unlike your situation PA would be necessary. I for one support it – the kids play in a dilapidated stadium across town from their high school, and eventually a new high school would likely be built on the same ground to provide continuity and practice areas. Interested to see how both of these turnout.

  3. Jim Duncan April 13, 2007 at 11:14

    TrvlMn –

    I agree with much of what you say, and especially the part that they should have addressed some sort of binding commitment. Saying that they are doing it for the community without arranging for some agreement with the public/County may have been a mistake.