Andover is about to have two more soccer fields.
Hawkridge Park underwent a massive renovation two years ago and has been closed since then to allow the grass time to properly grow, according to Assistant City Engineer Todd Haas, who oversees the city’s Park and Recreation Commission.
The hard work by the city and generosity of the North Metro Soccer Association, which donated $100,000 to this project, will be recognized at an April 21 grand opening ceremony at 9:30 a.m.
Younger teams will scrimmage and there will be referee training sessions after that. Prize drawings will take place throughout the day, according to North Metro Soccer Association President Barb Anderson. Some players from Minnesota Stars FC may be there, she said.
Anderson said this project was a great partnership with the city and she is happy to see it done. These fields will provide much needed space for the games. She said teams will likely continue to practice at other fields to keep the wear and tear down at Hawkridge Park.
According to Haas, there used to be one full-size 225- by 360-foot soccer field at Hawkridge Park. The city shifted hockey rinks farther east in the park and got rid of the baseball field to make room for two more medium-size soccer fields, which have a dimension of 150 feet by 300 feet. Bleachers were added by the fields thanks to a $5,000 donation from ATK-Federal Cartridge, according to Haas.
This is not just about getting more space for soccer though, Anderson said. There is an impact beyond soccer because kids have a place to play, parents can volunteer and kids see parents being active, which sends a positive message and leads to healthier communities.
“This keeps kids out of trouble, off the street and leads to healthier communities,” Anderson said.
In addition to the new soccer fields, the city also paved the gravel parking lot and expanded it, put in a well and irrigation system and paved a path to go through the park to make the park amenities more accessible.
According to Haas, all these improvements cost $293,000. The soccer association donated $100,000, Federal Cartridge donated $5,000 and the city’s park dedication fee revenue from developers and park improvement fund revenue from taxpayers paid for the rest of the project.
Anderson said there are about 1,900 kids in the North Metro Soccer Association program. She estimated that about 60 percent are from Andover and the other 40 percent are primarily from Anoka, East Bethel, Ham Lake, Oak Grove and St. Francis.
The association utilizes about 50 fields for practice and games. It often needs to be creative to find green space. For example, the association is using fields next to Riverdale Church in Andover, but it tries not to overuse that space unless it rains because the area is not irrigated. A dry field can easily be torn up if too many feet are running on it.
Therefore, these two new fields will help, but the association would not mind some more. Soccer association board member Sean Beggin is a member of the Andover Artificial Turf/Dome Task Force that is researching the short- and long-term pros and cons of grass fields, turf fields and dome facilities.
“We’re still needing more space, but this is a great help,” Anderson said.
Eric Hagen is at firstname.lastname@example.org