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Former Thomas Jefferson soccer star Costanzo pursuing his 'hometown' dream

| Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, 9:29 p.m.

Rich Costanzo learned first-hand just how difficult it was to work toward his goal of being a professional soccer player while growing up in Pittsburgh.

“When I was coming through playing soccer, in order to play at the highest level, I would drive all the way to Philadelphia on weekends to get the proper training,” Costanzo said. “It's a shame to me that these athletes have to travel all that way to get proper training and to use proper facilities.”

Costanzo, a 2004 Thomas Jefferson graduate, has made his dream of becoming a professional soccer player come true and, this year, he's bringing that experience home with him as a midfielder for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

But he also brought with him an idea for helping to shape the future of youth sports near his hometown and is in negotiations to help bring a 20-acre sports training facility to the Clairton-Jefferson Hills area.

Costanzo has brought all the parties together, and Clairton is rolling out the red carpet in an effort to bolster a city that has suffered several economical setbacks over the past three decades.

“The reason that we as a council and the mayor are trying to make this happen is because we don't have a lot of things like that in Clairton, and that would be an ideal situation,” Clairton mayor Rich Lattanzi said.

“Soccer is a growing sport ... and I think this would definitely help our retail businesses and, we know we have a negative image, but it may give people a better image of the city and I think it would definitely be possible we could (expand) around it.”

It may seem somewhat incongruous, a top-flight soccer facility in a school district that doesn't even have a soccer program, but though soccer may be the basis for the complex, it will not be the only game in town.

The goal is to have a multisport building with 130,000 enclosed square feet with indoor turf for football and soccer, courts for basketball and volleyball, indoor batting cages and workout areas for baseball, along with indoor track and weight training, coupled with outdoor fields.

Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at kbarnes@tribweb.com or 412-664-9161.

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