Soccer, lacrosse, rugby teams' fight for fields near end with new Coraopolis complex
By Tory N. Parrish
Published: Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Moon Area Lacrosse's youth players aren't just competing in the sport. The club's 160 players also compete with other sports teams for playing time on Moon Area High School's turf.
Often, those other sports take precedence because the lacrosse club is not a school-sanctioned sport, but it is trying to become one, said Tammy Ringeisen, president of the lacrosse group.
Allegheny County's plan to build a large sports complex in the western part of the county with fields for nontraditional sports, such as soccer, lacrosse and rugby, could be the answer to the club's prayers, said Ringeisen, mother of two teen lacrosse players. The first field with synthetic turf could be ready for play by spring.
“I mean, if we would be able to get time down there, that would be very inviting to us,” said Ringeisen, who said the high school and Moon Park, where the lacrosse club also plays, have been as accommodating as possible to the group.
The county plans to build the Sports & Athletic Complex at Montour Junction on 78 acres in Coraopolis, Moon and Robinson. The complex will include 12 to 15 fields, some with grass and some with synthetic turf, said Dennis Davin, executive director of Allegheny County Economic Development.
The planned project's uniqueness in this area has the potential to be a major draw for sports tournaments and teams from Ohio, Philadelphia and other areas within a five-hour drive, he said.
“There is really nothing in Southwestern Pennsylvania like what we are going to develop here. The compelling thing is that there is a substantial set of fields in Erie, Virginia and Maryland and New England,” but not here, Davin said.
The first field at the complex will be ready by spring or summer 2014. But completion of the entire complex, which will include the cleanup of Montour Run, a stocked trout stream, and an extension of the Montour Trail, which is about one mile south of the complex, will depend on how long it takes to raise money for the project, Davin said.
Of the approximately $15 million needed to complete the project, $2 million has been raised from federal sources, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Richard King Mellon Foundation and U.S. Soccer Foundation. The county is pursuing other sources such as private donors, sports groups, corporations and foundations, which could sponsor fields, Davin said.
The sports complex will include areas for nontraditional sports because that was the direction given by The Sports & Legacy Foundation, which donated the land to the county in 2008, Davin said.
Football, baseball and basketball commonly are referred to as traditional sports, because today's adults played them as children, said John Engh, chief operating officer of the National Alliance for Youth Sports in West Palm Beach, Fla.
“Opportunities to play sports like soccer and lacrosse, as well as others, simply didn't exist years ago. Today's youth sports landscape is significantly different than it was even just 20 years ago, as now children have a wide variety of sports to choose from,” he said.
For example, between 2007 and 2012, youth and adult participation in lacrosse increased from 1.2 million to 2.7 million participants, according to the National Sporting Goods Association in Mount Prospect, Ill. The association defines a “participant” as anyone who played at least twice in a year.
Leaders of youth sports groups said the sports complex could be in high demand because tight competition for playing time among all types of teams is tighter for players of nontraditional sports.
“Football tends to be very protective of their fields even though soccer is going to do less damage to the surface,” said Tim McCoy, executive director of PA West Soccer Association, a Monroeville-based group with 47,000 players ranging from 4 to 18 years old.
Also, there is potential for significant financial benefits for the area, because soccer tournaments can be large economic drivers, he said.
The 2013 US Youth Soccer Region I Championships, played June 28 to July 2, provided an estimated economic impact of more than $5 million to the Kingston, R.I., area, according to Frisco, Texas-based US Youth Soccer.
Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412- 380-5662 or email@example.com.
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