Sports complex has $50K so far

By Corene Brisendine

The Fieldhouse Project committee has raised about half the money needed to complete the feasibility stage of a proposed sports complex in Manhattan.

Gail Urban, Fieldhouse Project chair, said committee members created a threestage plan to build the complex. The first stage gauged the local communities’ desire to build a complex and what needs that complex would fulfill. She said they completed that portion and found a growing number of young adults interested in having a place for track events in addition to soccer, baseball, volleyball football and basketball. Many people also were interested in a place to have activities that aren’t typically among those that are school-sponsored like boxing, karate, motocross and square-dancing to name a few.

The second stage covers feasibility of building such a complex. She said the feasibility stage has four components and will cost about $100,000 total to complete. The first component is a market study. That study will cost between $40,000 and $50,000, and through fundraising efforts, the committee has met that goal. It is currently looking at two consulting companies that specialize in sports complex facility studies: one in Kansas City and one out of Florida. She said committee members will make their decision in the next two weeks.

Urban said they are still working on raising the rest of the money and have approached local governments, corporations, small businesses and interested citizens. They have just finished an informative video to raise awareness of the project that will be posted on their website,, within the next few weeks. She said while the market study is being done, the committee will continue fundraising efforts and try to inform the community about the project.

She said the committee went before the Riley County Commission in April and asked for funding. At that meeting, Commissioner Dave Lewis said he was in favor of the county giving the committee $10,000 to help with the project, but Commissioner Ron Wells did not seem eager to support it. Commissioner Bob Boyd told Urban if the committee members raised $60,000, he would support giving them the funds. Urban said they are just shy of that mark, but she is confident they will hit it within the next few weeks.

The market study will determine the size and scope of the complex. Urban said they need to know what the community is capable of supporting before designing the complex. After the feasibility study is completed, the committee will be able to move forward through the rest of the components. Those are performance and financial feasibility for the complex, site analysis and capital acquisition for construction. The final stage would be actually building the complex.

Urban said currently, Manhattan has extremely limited space for “traveling teams” — not only to practice but also hold events.

Susan Religa, a local parent whose children participate in a number of traveling teams, said she supports the project out of personal experience.

She said an average family spends $500 a weekend traveling out of town to games and tournaments, and it would be nice to “stay home” occasionally and “keep those dollars in Manhattan.” She said there are “many, many” such weekends spent out of town by her family throughout the year.

Urban said a tournament hosted in Kansas City last week had about 350 teams at the complex. Even in one parent brought the entire team for the weekend that would be $175,000 spend in Kansas City versus Manhattan. While Urban said while she didn’t think they could hold a tournament that large, it would generate sales even with a small tournament.

Religa said she has also found scheduling tournaments in Manhattan to be a logistical nightmare. A board member on a local soccer club, she said organizers have to wait until the Thursday prior to a tournament to publish the tournament schedule. She said that was because they have to work with several entities in acquiring enough fields to hold a tournament that is spread across town. Then she said they are not always “guaranteed” the space to hold that specific game.

Religa said last year they held a tournament with 350 kids participating. If a third of those kids were from out of town, it potentially generated about $58,000 in sales in Manhattan.

She said if all the games could be scheduled in the same location, and that location was guaranteed (in addition to having to work with just one entity instead of several), it would make holding tournaments from a board’s standpoint, more desirable.

Urban said that in addition to providing space for traveling teams to hold tournaments, which would get preferential treatment in scheduling, the facility could be used for a variety of community activities. She said that during a public forum held last week, people asked if the center could be used to hold events like square-dancing and motocross rallies. She said she didn’t see why not. She said there would also be a recreation section for people to use like a gym, even though that was not the focus of the complex.

Urban said the difference between the fieldhouse complex and a gym is where the money comes from to support it. She said the fieldhouse is supported by traveling teams using the facility for tournaments and practices; a gym or recreation complex like the one at K-State is funded by memberships.

The project was created by a grassroots movement of people living and working in the area who believe the community would benefit from a facility that caters to traveling teams and other recreational activities by generating more tourism dollars.

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