Crews are still putting the finishing touches on Boonville’s $7 million soccer complex, and the fields are generating enough revenue to pay for the upkeep themselves.
Boonville City Administrator Kate Fjell said the complex generated about $25,000 in revenue last year, matching the cost of upkeep. The complex hosted teams from 22 Missouri counties and St. Louis, and from Illinois, Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa. Overall, the complex was booked for most weekends during the fall soccer season, and the city is looking at adding more users and tournaments for next year.
The city collects all the revenue from the complex in a separate fund, and eventually plans to have the fund sustain the fields by itself. So far, the city has been paying for the upkeep out of its parks and stormwater fund, and hasn’t touched the revenue from the fields at all, she said.
“I feel good about where we are, I feel good about the use of the fields,” Fjell said. “I do think that ultimately we’re going to be saving money in reserves for 12 years down the road when we’re looking at replacing this turf.”
The Boonville Soccer Association manages the complex and does the upkeep, while the city collects all the revenue. This year, the association was submitting invoices for their work, and the city was reimbursing them. That could continue the next fiscal year, which starts in April, but they’ll look to formalize a contract as they get a better idea of how the fields are used, she said.
The city always intended to subsidize the upkeep of the complex for the first few years, including paying for the lights and other utilities to the complex out of the parks fund, Fjell said. They are still trying to figure out what the maximum use of the park could be where the revenues would sustain the upkeep. Fjell said she still sees room to add more users.
Some of the biggest customers use it on a regular basis, like the Missouri Olympic Development program, which started using Boonville as its home base to host training sessions and games for 600 players from around the state.
It’s meant less travel for players and teams from Kansas City and St. Louis, who used to travel to one end of the state to play. They are also out-of-town users, who pay a higher rate than Boonville users, which is good for the city’s revenue Fjell said.
Along with the Olympic development program, the park served as the home for Boonville High School soccer, which used one of the fields for its home games, and hosted Southern Boone, Marshall and Fulton for the district championships. Stephens College soccer also hosted its eight home games at the Boonville park.
“Those have been really beneficial because they’re regular,” Fjell said. “So, instead of being a big glut on one weekend, it’s consistent, so we love our routine users.”
The complex also hosted other leagues and tournaments throughout the year, and some of its biggest users included:Rock Bridge High School in Columbia used it for two of its tournaments, the Rock Bridge Shoot-out and the Rock Bridge Invitational. Eighteen teams from around the state — primarily in Mid-Missouri, but also from as far as Kirksville and Rolla — competed at the complex as part of the Mid Missouri Micro league. Four clubs from St. Louis and Kansas City fielded teams from various age groups at the park as part of the Missouri Youth Soccer Association’s state cup. Eight teams from Columbia, Sedalia, St. Louis and Kansas City used the complex for the Christian Fellowship Tournament. Ten schools from Missouri, Kansas and Iowa used the fields for U.S. Youth Soccer National League matches.
The routine users should be back next year, and the city also hopes to add two more large tournaments, Fjell said. They were in line to host another tournament last year, but that was complicated by how the tournament booked hotel rooms. It was a “stay to play” tournament, where the hosts book out blocks of rooms in local hotels, and teams rent out those rooms in order to play in the tournament, Fjell said.
That tournament was seeking 500 hotel rooms, which would have overflowed into Columbia hotels. It happened to line up with a University of Missouri home football game, though, so there weren’t enough rooms available. Since then, the city has been working with the hotels and the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau, so they are in a better position to secure tournaments like that this year, she said.
Fjell said she doesn’t have an exact final cost of the project yet, but will have one as the city starts preparing its budget for the next fiscal year in January. She said it’s not far off the $7 million figure the city has been budgeting for since the beginning of the project.
In total, the city built six soccer fields, including 5 turf fields, a football practice field that’s also available to rent, the building, and about a mile each of sidewalk and fencing. The work done this year, including the building, sidewalks and fencing, cost a lot less than last year. The bulk of the cost was in the fields themselves, she said.
The city paid for the fields using two bonds. A $4.2 million bond for the fields themselves will be paid off in May of 2023. Another $3.1 million bond was split in half to pay to grade the fields and stormwater improvements, and will be paid off in 2028, Fjell said. The city will likely end up paying about $450,000 in interest on those bonds, she said. The payments for those bonds are coming from the city’s half-cent parks and stormwater sales tax that voters approved in 2012.