Regional soccer complex sought

Club envisions 11-15 fields, stadium on 86 acres in Aberdeen area by 2007

May 09, 2004|By Amanda Ponko | Amanda Ponko,SUN STAFF

The Greater Harford Soccer Club, in conjunction with its newly acquired adviser, Colone Associates of Oneonta, N.Y., is working to create the largest soccer complex in the county, which will include 11 to 15 high-quality fields for the use of professional teams and tournaments, organizers say.

The Greater Harford Soccer Park, to be completed in 2007, will cover about 86 acres in two parcels in the Aberdeen area - about 30 acres on Beards Hill Road and about 56 acres on Carsins Run Road. The sites include 10 acres of wetlands and forests.

The Beards Hill site will house a stadium, training center and the association's headquarters. The Carsins Run site will include the primary field for league and tournament play and a training facility. The soccer park aims to serve the Mid-Atlantic region with approximately 90,000 players using the facilities each year.

Dr. Jeffrey Hess of Bel Air, executive director of the project and tournament director for the soccer club, said the park will meet the region's growing interest in soccer and demand for playing space, while serving as a recreational area for residents and offering economic benefits for the county.

"Everyone in the community will benefit," Hess said. "We're talking about [dozens of] acres of nice, green grass and trees and picnic areas for people. ... The aesthetics of having something like this in the community are great."

Nearly year-round play

Natural and synthetic fields will ensure playability for 10 months out of the year. A pond also is planned to collect runoff and serve as an irrigation source while filtering out pollutants that would otherwise run into the Chesapeake Bay.

A 2,500-person stadium will surround one of the turf fields and be used for soccer leagues, as well as championships and tournaments.

"We want to bring in players and fans," Hess said. "Harford County and Baltimore County are both [soccer] hotbeds for Maryland."

Hess said the Greater Harford Soccer Park was modeled after the programs of the Ripken Baseball Center and would serve as a counterpart to that facility.

The cost of the complex is estimated at $4.5 million. Hess said the facility would pay for itself within five years of operation.

Consultant hired

The nonprofit Greater Harford Soccer Club recruited Colone Associates, a sports management consulting group that specializes in soccer facility planning and development, to aid it in its endeavor.

"We couldn't do it without them," Hess said. "They have resources we don't have - experience, for one."

Albert L. Colone, president of Colone Associates, said much remains to be done before the project can move forward, including the securing of financial backing, but he said the outcome will be worth it.

"Several things have to come together for this to work," he said. "But I have a good feeling about it. ... It has enormous possibilities and would be an added complement toward making Harford County a sports location."

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