Sports

Finally, a place for indoor kicks

 - Rogerick Anas
— image credit: Rogerick Anas

With bare dirt on the field and huge rolls of artificial turf rolled up to the side, skeletal steel framework bare of sheet rock, and the whole 30,000-square-foot structure surrounded by a muddy swamp that makes the Great Grimpen Mire look like a kid’s sandbox, the new Indoor Olympic Soccer and Sports Center at Pendergast Regional Park seems about a million years from completion.

But after talking to Larry Smith, one of three co-owners of the facility, you begin to believe it will, indeed, be up and running by the end of the month.

The month of December, that is. Honest.

Smith’s enthusiasm is hard to resist.

“We’d hoped to open a couple of weeks ago” in November, he admitted with a grin. “The turf goes in next week. We will be open in December. Full (soccer) seasons will start in January. We may have tournaments over the holidays.”

He said weekday evenings, 5 to 9 p.m., are already scheduled with “30 or 40” adult leagues anxious to get started. Youth soccer leagues are lining up for the weekends. Eventually, he said minor modifications will allow the facility to be used for baseball and softball, lacrosse and volleyball, among other things. Some baseball leagues have already shown an interest, he said.

Smith is one of three partners in the project: Smith is a civilian Keyport employee who’s a supervisor for the heavyweight torpedoes program; Dennis Michael is a buyer for Boeing who lives in Port Orchard; and Steve Lawrence is a commercial diver, also living in Port Orchard.

They’re not professional sports-complex developers. They’re just soccer dads who decided a few years ago an indoor facility was long overdue in Kitsap County.

Smith, who lives on the other side of Hood Canal in Shine, met with Michael a few years ago, and the two began chasing the idea. Lawrence joined the team a little later.

The three researched the project for about three years. They examined facilities from Canada to California before putting plans to paper and going to a financial backer — Kitsap Bank.

At first, the three looked at a location in the county — the Jackson and Lund site in Port Orchard. “But the infrastructure was too expensive,” said Smith.

After 18 months of not getting anywhere, they contacted Cris Gears, formerly with the county but who had just moved his employment to the city of Bremerton — also in charge of parks facilities — and that’s when things began to click.

“That’s when the dream began to blossom,” said Smith. “I can’t say enough good about the people in Bremerton — at every level. The Parks Department, Building and Planning, the Council, the mayor ... It’s amazing how much support the city showed us.”

The legal process took nearly a year with the city. The partners now have a 10-year lease potentially renewable three more times. They pay the city for use of its land by letting the city use the facility 182 hours per year.

They broke ground in July.

Most of the basic funding to build the facility came from a loan from Kitsap Bank. The three men also, in essence, mortgaged their homes to raise additional money. They’ll be selling billboard advertising. There’s a lot of sweat equity, too — the three take turns going to the soccer complex after work to hammer and drill and saw and tote and carry and gofer ... whatever needs to be done. Professionals are on hand to do the specialized construction. The three soccer dads stay until 10 or 11 p.m. many nights. They say they’re determined.

The cost?

“Well,” said Smith, who rolled his eyes heavenward a bit, “it’s surpassed a million dollars so far.”

But he said the three are convinced interest in such a facility is so strong, it’s bound to make money — or at least pay for itself.

“We’re not only the biggest indoor facility in the (greater) Kitsap area, we’re the only one,” declared Smith.

The partners hired Lois Stromberg, a local soccer activist and former South Kitsap High School coach, as director of soccer for the facility.

The facility is about 210 feet wide, 110 feet long and 43 feet from field to ceiling. It has two soccer fields: the main one is 180 by 85 feet, and the smaller one for youth is 80 by 55. The fields will be covered with something similar to Astroplay, an artificial field turf that incorporates granulated rubber to reduce abrasion, and make for a softer landing for players.

Clinics will be offered and eventually, Smith said they hope to open the facility up to dances and other community events.

Inside scoop

• The new Indoor Olympic Soccer and Sports Center at Pendergast Regional Park off Union Avenue will have a conference room, banquet room, video game room, cafe or concession area, an upstairs mezzanine, office space, separate restroom/changing rooms for male and female players, as well as coaches and officials.

• A bridge will ramp up to the main entrance on the mezzanine. The facility includes a sound system, radiant floor heating, indoor heating throughout and extensive industrial-grade overhead lighting.

• Fees for teams to play in eight-week increments are set according to age: Three-and-one-half years old to 6 years is $200; under 7 to under 10 is $400; under 11 to under 18 is $575. Adult teams are also $575.

• For more information, call (360) 479-8388. The Web site is olympicindoorsoccer.com.

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