This week, the Soldotna City Council approved setting aside $3 million for renovations and an expansion of the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. That move, which doesn’t actually appropriate any money yet, is the starting point for what will be a big fundraising campaign. Tim Dillon, director of the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District, is a co-chair of the group spearheading the effort.
“The goal is to provide a quality of living experience for not just Soldotna, but the central peninsula. Some of those things haven’t been defined yet ... . It’s all going to depend on how successful we are at fundraising.”
And it’s more than just adding activities. There is an emergency preparedness part to the project, so the center will also be a gathering place in case of fires, earthquakes or other disasters. And so they started with a totally blank drawing board, knowing that in order to secure the funds, there will need to be a wide appeal. Maybe that means a dome? Maybe, probably, it means something of a slightly smaller scale.
But the $7 million to $11 million or more they’re hoping to raise will need to come from a lot of groups and individuals who see value in the project. And to keep showing the city value, quarterly reports will be given to the council over the next two years.
Right now, they’ve got three basic ideas in mind, depending on how much money can be raised.
There’s the addition of a field house with an indoor turf field, which would be connected to the existing facility. Raise a little more and you can add a track, a little more and you get new bathrooms and other amenities. The list goes on.
As the project fundraising moves ahead, Dillon says that there will be lots of opportunities for public input. The city will have the option in two years of putting the $3 million into the pot with the other money that’s been raised, or it can take it off the table.