MOUNT VERNON — A new Soccer and Lacrosse Stadium for Mount Vernon Nazarene University athletics has evolved into a project that could place the city of Mount Vernon on the map for central Ohio soccer facilities on the collegiate, high school and youth levels.
Plans for a premier stadium, including a turf field and lighting, were announced by the University in November 2018 to meet the needs of the growing number of teams and athletes using the current grass field. Since then, conversations between MVNU, Mount Vernon City Schools and community partners have increased the scope of the project to include the development of a community youth soccer complex providing a “home” for local organizations.
Key to this expanded use of land bordering Mount Vernon Avenue and Cougar Drive was the decision to place the new stadium along Cougar Drive, on the north side of campus. Building the stadium adjacent to the high school and middle school campus opened the door for the schools to utilize the new stadium as well.
“This is a strategic location for partnership with the high school and the community,” said James Smith MVNU’s Vice President for University Relations. “If we can make this a part of the future for our community, a way for us to connect, give back and collaborate, that’s going to be better for everyone.”
“The location and willingness to share the MVNU Soccer and Lacrosse Complex with Mount Vernon City School will be a tremendous asset to our soccer programs,” said William Seder, superintendent of MVCS. “To practice and compete on a dedicated soccer field will provide opportunities and advantages to our student athletes that are second to none in our geographic area.”
The entire complex will accommodate MVNU’s turf stadium and a full-size grass practice field, while the Community Fields will provide five full-size grass fields that can be reconfigured (relined) into multiple U10 and U12 competition spaces.
Smith is excited about the potential he sees in the complex, not only for local athletes and families, but the draw the complex will have for tournaments for all ages.
“Mount Vernon doesn’t have a soccer complex like many cities our size; we were lagging behind in youth sports facilities,” Smith said. “With this, we could host a significant soccer tournament. We’ll have two turf fields (MVNU and MVHS), six grass fields and ample parking.”
The collaboration between the two educational institutions has provided a foundation for success on this and other shared service projects.
“The partnerships between MVNU and MVCSD have continue to grow over the past couple of years. I believe it takes a great deal of trust and commitment to be forward thinking to best serve our students and the community,” Seder said.
“We all understand that we need to be good stewards of the financial resources afforded us. Collaborative projects with a mutual interest and purpose is a good example of good financial stewardship.”
The Knox County Foundation is a leading supporter of the youth complex, recently awarding a $100,000 grant that will cover half of the cost for grading the five fields, a new pavilion and construction of sidewalks that will connect the fields to the stadium and parking.
“We are very excited to cast this vision for our community to build an expansive, attractive, and competitive youth soccer complex,” said Smith. “We are so thankful that the Knox County Foundation has led the way to help make this dream a reality. This complex will position us very well for the ongoing growth of youth soccer in our county. It will allow us to host tournaments and draw youth and their families to our community.
"This will clearly benefit our local businesses and provide another great reason for families from all over Ohio to discover everything Mount Vernon and Knox County have to offer. This also provides an opportunity for our community to add youth lacrosse in the future. This has been a much-needed project for the youth of our community and we are thrilled to help make it possible.”
At the center of the project, and serving as an anchor to the entire complex, is the Soccer and Lacrosse Stadium, which will include rest rooms, concessions, locker rooms and training facility, stadium seating, a patio area and a nearby pavilion.
The complex will be funded, in part, by a private matching grant up to $1 million. Naming opportunities for stadium amenities are available at www.mvnu.edu/future.