The five soccer fields at Santa Fe’s Municipal Recreation Sports Complex need an upgrade. They serve more than 6,000 players, spread over the city’s four leagues, plus casual users and schools, Santa Fe Soccer Complex Project Manager Pilar Faulkner tells SFR.
City committees are considering a plan to spend $1.25 million to improve the fields, including drainage repair and capital infrastructure. On Monday, the Public Works and Land Use Committee passed unanimously an agreement with Santa Fe County under which the county will match funds with $500,000 from a bond sale, along with $250,000 from the state for the field improvements.
The Finance Committee is scheduled to take up the item on Sept. 3, and the full City Council is set to hear it Sept 11.
The improvements will include lights on two of the fields so athletes can play after dark.
Faulkner pegs the timeline for completing the improvements at “sometime in early summer, late spring of 2020.” She also hopes there will be four new turf fields built at the MRC on Santa Fe’s west side sometime between 2020 and 2022, with financial help from local and state governments.
While the city councilors for Districts 3 and 4 have been supportive of improving and expanding city soccer fields, Faulkner says the leagues have pushed hardest for the county and state money.
“There’s so little resources for soccer that parents, managers and coaches are all pulling weight,” she says. “We’re hoping this is a turning page in the situation.”
The “soccer downs” on land owned by Pojoaque Pueblo have 16 fields, which the leagues and several schools use in order to take some of the pressure off of the MRC site.
However, the land was intended for equestrian use, and the leagues have to put up the lines and goals themselves. The pueblo can also decide at any moment that the land can’t be used for soccer—it’s happened before, Faulkner says.
“If any of them shut down or can’t be used, it taxes the whole system and then it starts taxing other sports because the city has to find other locations,” Faulkner tells SFR. Overall, the MRC has “lots of potential, very little resources.”
The money to properly manage and improve the fields has been a long time coming. In 2018, SFR reported that the idea to have the county match funds from the city for the fields has been considered for several years; it’s never taken shape until now.
There is the potential of regional, national and international groups wanting to bring bigger tournaments to Santa Fe once the fields are up to scratch.
“There’s a few groups that are looking at Santa Fe,” Parks and Recreation Director John Muñoz tells SFR. “It’s a wonderful destination city and definitely that’s good for tourism and economic development. … If we have the facilities and the fields and they’re in great shape, we’re going to have not just local residents but also others.”