Monday, December 19, 2016
[Shasta County] Legal battle over Redding soccer fields cointinue
Blog note: this article references a June 2015 grand jury report.
While a lawsuit over the deteriorating synthetic turf at Redding Soccer Park drags on, the nonprofit operating the complex is working on a long-term plan that would include money to replace the fields.
“Litigation, in my opinion, is never a Plan A,” said Bryan Erickson, board president of the Shasta Regional Soccer Association.
No matter the outcome of the city of Redding’s lawsuit against Surface America Inc., the four fields at the park will need to be replaced in another 10 to 15 years and the money to do that must come from somewhere, Erickson said.
Soccer park officials, coaches and fans say the artificial turf began breaking down about a year after the $10 million complex opened in 2007. Large areas of the fields have turned black, a conspicuous sign of the failing fields.
After months of tests and consulting with attorneys, the city sued on Sept. 30, 2014. The lawsuit says the defects are covered under the Surface America warranty.
City Attorney Barry DeWalt said both sides have been in mediation since last April but there is a good chance the lawsuit will go to trial. DeWalt did not know when the trial would start, but it probably won’t be anytime soon.
Nearly a year after the city sued Surface America, the Shasta County Grand Jury released a report titled “Turf Troubles in River City” in which it blamed the field conditions on ineffective management between the city and Shasta Regional Soccer Association.
When the grand jury report came out in June 2015, it stated the synthetic turf was good for two or three more years, and to replace it would cost $1.5 million.
The Shasta Regional Soccer Association leases the soccer park from the city, which it built in 2006-07. The nonprofit is financially responsible for paying the utility bills at the park, maintenance and staffing. Erickson said his group has done this since opening day without support from the city.
Both Erickson and Chad New, executive director of the soccer park, said they are making the best of the conditions. The fields are often a topic, but they believe the complex is a “jewel” and an economic driver for the North State, especially when it attracts teams from around the region for seasonal tournaments.
“We have missed some opportunities” in landing bigger, more prestigious tournaments, New said of the fields. “We will get a comment sometimes from people coming from out of town, ‘What is all that black stuff?
“But we do as much maintenance and try to make the park look as nice as we possibly can under our small budget. . . . If we can run a good, smooth, clean tournament, then people don’t talk about the fields because they are enjoying soccer.”
Soccer park revenue comes from gate receipts, field rentals and business sponsorships. The park in recent years has received help from Redding Subaru and Redding Kia, which have donated vehicles for raffles. The money collected from the raffle tickets has helped boost the park’s bottom line, Erickson said.
Currently, the Shasta Regional Soccer Association is working with a consultant to develop a capital campaign that it hopes to release more information about in the coming weeks.
“We have realized in conversations and in strategy sessions that . . . we need a sustainable plan that will replace the fields in 10 years from now,” Erickson said. “We can’t charge $11 at the gate. That is not going to work.”
December 15, 2016
By David Benda