The Soccer Association of Columbia could not have conceived of a more attractive and exciting proposal than the complex recently unveiled to Howard Community College's board of trustees.
Few locations in the county would serve better -- or be better served -- as the site for a soccer center. The school's campus is an ideal location. It reinforces Columbia's status as this state's mecca for the sport, a status that came about because of the popularity of Columbia's youth soccer leagues.
The association's proposal is to build six to nine premier soccer fields at the college, possibly with seating for fans and lights for night games. The synergistic benefits are immediately apparent.
Currently, many association games are played on sub-par fields. A state-of-the-art complex would give the many young players a chance to compete under the best conditions. With approximately 3,800 youths ranging in age from 5 to 19 on association teams, a venture such as this would be a long-term investment in the community's youth.
It would also be an investment in the county's future.
Soccer has already put Columbia on the map in sporting circles. It is considered one of the few places in the country where the game is seriously pursued as an alternative to more traditional organized sports, such as football. A complex of playing fields would almost certainly make Columbia a magnet, attracting local, state and national tournaments as well as travel leagues. The potential from tourism would be significant.
The community college also would benefit from having this feather in its cap. Tie-ins between the soccer complex and the college's physical education program would elevate the stature of both. A first-rate soccer program would also bolster the college's other althetic endeavors.
Beyond the logistics of financing and construction, this proposal has virtually no negatives and should be energetically pursued. Howard County and Maryland state officials should enthusiastically support the effort, particularly in trying to secure loans and other financing. The 23-year-old soccer association has been working on this idea for five years.
It is time that the entire community come together to make sure this project becomes a reality.