Indoor soccer facility on hold

Club officials assessing needs of community

Plans for an indoor soccer complex on the Columbus AirPark campus have been placed on hold as a local soccer club assesses its needs with community partners.

The Columbus Express Soccer Club had planned to open an indoor soccer complex along Vickers Drive by November 2016 after Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing said it would foot most of the bill to create a $750,000 to $1 million indoor complex on the Columbus Municipal AirPark campus. The contribution from Toyota was provided to mark its 25th anniversary in Columbus and was expected to help the club secure additional funding from other corporate and private donors.

“We’re hitting the pause button for now,” said Seth Keele, president of the Columbus Express Soccer Club. “We’re working with community partners to assess the needs of the club and the community for an indoor facility.”

Keele said part of the evaluation involves whether an indoor facility should attempt to serve needs other than soccer.

“I do think there’s real potential in terms of interest and participation in Columbus and surrounding communities,” Keele said.

The Columbus Express Soccer Club’s transition in bringing on Ty Smith, who this year became the organization’s director of coaching, and new board members ultimately led to the decision to place the indoor soccer complex on hold.

“We felt like our focus needed to be elsewhere,” Keele said.

Keele added that Toyota has been made aware of the project’s status. He added that an effort to raise funds for a proposed facility would be needed in the future as officials figure out what the next steps are.

“From a standpoint of soccer in Columbus, it would be a great thing for our soccer club, but we think the community as a whole could benefit from it,” he said. “It’s not something that’s happening by tomorrow … but we’re hoping to get some clarity around it in the next 12 to 18 months.”

Project timeline

October 2015: Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing announces it would contribute money to build an indoor soccer complex on the Columbus AirPark campus.

Fall 2016: Columbus Express Soccer Club director of coaching Kenrick Ramirez agrees to stay on with the organization until new director Ty Smith arrives in early 2017.

November 2016: Original timeline for proposed 20,000-square-foot soccer complex on Vickers Drive to be completed.

December 2017: Columbus Express Soccer Club president Seth Keele says plans for an indoor soccer complex have been placed on hold.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com