The city of Soldotna is holding a special election Tuesday to determine if a new fieldhouse will be built next to the Soldotna Regional Sports Center.
The question on ballot for residents is whether the city should issue $10 million worth of general obligation bonds to pay for the facility. Local attorney Jeff Dolifka is a 2006 graduate of Skyview High School and has served as a co-chair on this project. Last month, he told the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce how a year-round, indoor sports facility could help level the playing field for young athletes.
“I can remember in high school, we would travel to Anchorage. I had to go up there every weekend, every Saturday. We spent our weekends up there. Luckily for me, my parents were in a position where they could afford to take me up there. As I got older, I started to notice there were a lot of kids that couldn’t go with us. Looking back, obviously, they couldn’t afford to go. There’s a lot of kids that kind of got left behind...and it bothered me because (there were) a lot of opportunities I had that they didn’t.”
He says he hopes the fieldhouse can not only give area youth a place to pursue athletics year round, but also help keep them here.
“What it really comes down to for me is I’m tired of losing kids. (To) the criminal justice system, suicide, to a variety of different things with the lack of opportunity here. I’m just tired of it. Will it solve all the problems? No. I’m not arguing (with) the fieldhouse, everything’s going to be perfect. But will it help? Yeah. I think we can save some kids. To me, being able to save a few is worth the cost.”
And that cost is substantial. The bond obligations would be for $10 million, paid back through a half-percent bump in local sales tax, to 3.5 percent. That increase would sunset when the bonds are repaid in full.
The 42,000 square foot fieldhouse would be able to host a variety of sports, most notably soccer and futsal, but also basketball, wrestling and flag football, with up to three activities taking place at one time. It would also be able to host conferences and trade show-style events.
Polling is open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at city hall in Soldotna.