Soccer club seeking community support for indoor complex

The Columbus Express Soccer Club is preparing to kick off a community fundraising effort to garner monetary support for a planned indoor soccer complex in Columbus.

The soccer club plans to construct a 28,000-square-foot facility on 2.7 acres of land along Vickers Drive, which is owned by the Columbus Municipal Airport.

The total budget for the construction of the building is about $1.3 million, soccer club president Chip Orben said last week during a meeting of the Columbus Board of Aviation Commissioners.

Most of that money will have to be generated through fundraising efforts, he said.

The club has hired a professional fundraiser to complete a pre-campaign study to gauge interest in the soccer complex and the public’s overall willingness to make a financial contribution to the construction process, Orben said. That interest is likely high, he said.

The soccer club is already sitting on what Orben called a generous and significant donation from Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing, which pledged money for the construction of the indoor soccer complex as part of the celebration of its 25th year in Columbus last fall. Orben declined to disclose the size of the manufacturer’s donation, but said the amount would be released eventually.

Additionally, the city has committed to spending $96,100 in Columbus Municipal Airport tax increment financing money to extend water and sewer services to the complex.

Orben also said CESC has some of its own money set aside for the construction process, forming a good base for the fundraising effort. However, the soccer club president said there is still a gap that needs to be filled in order for the project to be fully funded.

If necessary, Orben told aviation commissioners that the soccer club is willing to take out a loan and acquire some debt in an effort to keep the construction process moving. However, he also said he is optimistic that the club will not have to take that route.

“We anticipate that we are going to get it. But if we fall short of that goal, that won’t stop the project,” he said.

Aside from launching fundraising efforts, CESC is making other strides toward bringing its vision for an indoor soccer facility to life.

The aviation commissioners last week approved a 20-year lease of the Vickers Drive land to the soccer club at a price of $3,000 per acre per year. CESC’s board unanimously approved that lease at its meeting Wednesday, Orben said.

Additionally, final renderings of the exterior of the indoor complex have been created and have received positive feedback from other businesses located in that area, such as SIHO Insurance, which houses its corporate conference center in a building along Whitney Court, a street intersecting Vickers Drive, Orben said.

The facility is expected to open in the winter of 2016.

About the project

Columbus Express Soccer Club plans to construct a 28,000-square-foot facility to house a 25,000-square-foot, rectangular indoor soccer field on 2.7 acres of land along Vickers Drive, owned by the Columbus Municipal Airport. The facility would be used most frequently between the months of October and March during the indoor soccer season.

The budget for the construction process is $1.3 million, with a part of that already committed from Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing, which contributed an undisclosed amount to the project. The city has also agreed to spend nearly $100,000 to provide utilities to the complex once it is constructed.

The soccer club is preparing to launch a fundraising campaign to secure the remaining money it needs to build the indoor soccer facility.

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Olivia Covington is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at ocovington@therepublic.com or 812-379-5712.