Wednesday, July 17, 2013
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City hears annual update on Lincoln FC Soccer Complex

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[July 17, 2013]  Dr. Dru Hauter paid a visit to the Lincoln City Council last week on Tuesday evening to provide an update on activities at the Lincoln FC Soccer Complex.

The complex is directly behind the Lincoln Wal-Mart Supercenter and is the home of several local soccer teams. This came about as the result of a request from Hauter in 2009 to use city-owned property to build the complex.

The city was happy to offer the Lincoln Futbol Club the land they needed, but specified that the club would do all the improvement work at the complex and would also provide the city with an annual update as to the club's activities and the use of the land.

Hauter began by sharing an aerial photo of the complex. He noted that the shot was taken by a local balloonist last summer.

He talked about how the complex made it through the drought and noted that there was some greening as fall approached, which was right in time for the Route 66 Shootout tournament.

He said for the time being, the field configuration will be the same this year, but he later explained future changes that would be made.

He noted that the configuration was great for the fields and also for accommodating vehicles. He said that last year they had the ability to park 800 vehicles around the fields.

Hauter said the push for players is going well. There were 98 players in the spring leagues. The U8 and U9 teams are growing. He noted that when they can get kids interested in this age group, they will stay and play through their high school years. Consequently, as time goes by, the player numbers with rise in the older age groups as well.

He noted that the Lincoln club is playing in the Intercommunity Soccer League, based out of Washington. He said Lincoln is now one of their host sites. The Lincoln club is able to do this because they have the fields and space to host all the age groups playing at one time. He said the events were held in Lincoln twice last fall, once this spring and will also be held twice this coming fall.

Hauter said that for these events, they are able to play a total of 30 games on six fields in one day. He also told the council that these events bring people into the community, and they spend dollars while they are here.

Hauter said they were able to purchase a John Deere mower, and the maintenance of the grounds is all being done by parent volunteers.

The Lincoln Futbol Club hosted its first Route 66 Shootout last fall. Hauter said this is their only fundraiser for the club thus far. That tournament took place over a three-day period. It brought in 35 teams that played a total of 120 games over the weekend.

Hauter said they had estimated that there were 1,000 people in attendance daily, and that many of them stayed for the entire weekend, taking advantage of local motels and eateries as well as purchasing gasoline. He said the club has talked to local businesses about the increase in traffic and were told that it was notable.

Robert Morris University has also contacted the club, asking if they can rent the fields this fall for their practices. The college is forming teams with members from Springfield and Peoria. The college said the Lincoln location was a great halfway meeting place for their players. There is also a club-level team using the fields for practices.

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In addition, Hauter said a radio flyer remote-control plane group is using the complex, and a balloon team uses it for their launches.

Looking forward, he said the second annual Route 66 Shootout is currently being planned. He said the club is hoping to draw 50 teams this year, with prospects of about 1,400 visitors coming for the three-day tournament.

In the future, Hauter said that demand for playing spaces was going to mean a reconfiguration of the fields. He said they will divide some full-size fields into smaller fields, which will increase the total number of fields at the complex to nine.

Finally, Hauter shared that the club had developed a new logo, which includes the city name more prominently.

During discussion Jonie Tibbs said she thought the club had done a wonderful job with the property. Hauter said it was a little scary starting out, but once they had a home for the club, they had no problem finding players. He also noted that the parents are very involved in the programs and are terrific about helping out at all the events, as well as taking care of the grounds.

On a side note, Hauter shared that his daughter had served an internship with the American Heart Association, and through her connections, the club was able to secure some funding that they hope to use to create some walking paths around the complex. He said that was still down the road, and he would come back later to talk to the council about that more specifically.

Mayor Keith Snyder told the aldermen that if they have not gone out to see the complex, they should. The space is really neat, and it is good to see all the parents who are out there.

Hauter said it was amazing to see how much gets done with all the parental involvement.

City administrator Sue McLaughlin asked if the club worked with the tourism board in any way. Hauter said that they really hadn't.

He did say that the tournament directors give the coach of each team an information packet that includes items such as brochures and coupons. He said the idea was to give them information about the town and keep them here.

McLaughlin said it was good they did that, and maybe it could be expanded on. She noted that instead of just a coupon or two, maybe they could come up with a full page of coupons to be used locally.

This year's Route 66 Shootout tournament is scheduled for Sept. 13, 14 and 15. The event is open to the public with ample parking. There is no public seating, so it is recommended that visitors bring lawn chairs or blankets. There are snack booths set up around the complex with water and healthy snack options.


Lincoln Futbol Club:

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