Soldotna breaks ground on field house
A dozen shovels hit the ceremonial gravel pile at the site of the future Soldotna Field House Friday. The City of Soldotna broke ground on its indoor athletic facility, which has been in the works for years. The project is funded by support from a bond vote last year, and is set to open in late 2025.
Directly adjacent to the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex, which houses the city’s ice rink, the field house will be a 40,000-square-foot building with an indoor turf field and elevated track.
Soldotna Mayor Paul Whitney opened the ceremony with information about the history of the long-awaited project. In 2019, voters rejected a bond to fund a field house by just 18 votes. But in another vote last year, 68% of voters supported the $15 million bond.
Whitney told attendees that the field house will include a multipurpose sport court and athletic facilities, and will also be a driver of tourism and commerce.
“The facility will be large enough to host statewide tournaments and sporting events, as well as large meetings, trade shows and other events that support local organizations and draw thousands of people into our community,” Whitney said.
The city awarded the bid for the project to Anchorage-based contractor Criterion General in September, for just over $14 million. There were five bids on the project. After receiving a higher-than-expected estimate in the spring, the city made changes, including scrapping plans for a connector building with the sports complex, to get the project within budget.
At the groundbreaking, Jeff Dolifka, who helped rally public support for the project, spoke about the long journey.
“As they say, it always seems impossible until it’s done. And that’s kind of what it felt like going through everything that we all went through. There were many people who made this dream a reality,” Dolifka said. “I believe it’s our responsibility as a community to constantly strive to provide for a better future for our children, and we just did that.”
Accompanying him was fellow supporter Tim Dillon, director of the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District. He said the facility would be important for young people today, and future generations of young people on the central peninsula.
“And we will see you all back right back here, when it comes to cutting that ribbon, and letting everyone go wild in the new facility,” Dillon said. Thank you for being here today.”
Soldotna Public Works Director Kyle Kornelis said the design for the pre-engineered metal building should be complete soon, and site work should begin next spring. He said the public can expect the facility to be open by the fall or winter of 2025.