The Springfield-Greene County Park Board and Lake Country Soccer literally kicked off $25 million in facility improvements to the Cooper Park Sports Complex.
During a celebration yesterday, officials kicked soccer balls into a goal – in lieu of a traditional groundbreaking ceremony featuring shovels moving dirt – to mark the debut of construction at Lake Country Soccer Dome, 2334 E. Pythian St., according to a news release.
The project calls for synthetic turf at 19 soccer, baseball and softball fields at Cooper Park, stadium enhancements, additional spectator seating, locker rooms, restrooms, concession stands, accessible pathways and parking. When the project is completed over the next three years, Cooper Park will have three anchor sports facilities: Cooper Tennis Complex, Lake Country Soccer Complex and the 11 baseball and softball fields that make up the Cooper and Killian sports complexes.
“First and foremost, upgrading Cooper Park by turfing 19 sports fields will give local athletes and their families a state-of-the-art place to play, right here in our own community,” Park Board Director Bob Belote said in the release. “Adding turf and other amenities restores Lake Country Soccer to destination status and creates a new baseball/softball anchor facility with Cooper and Killian.
"Both these facilities will attract and host larger tournaments in all kinds of weather, bringing thousands of visitors to Springfield every year, just like at Cooper Tennis Complex, which is already the best of the best.”
The project has received $13.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding from the state of Missouri, $7.3 million in ARPA funding from the city of Springfield and $631,274 from the Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau. That puts funding currently at over $21 million, and the Park Board and Lake Country Soccer are running a fundraising campaign for the remainder.
"Naming rights are available," Belote added in the release.
On 127 acres, Cooper Park was established in 1983 on land donated by late businessperson Harry Cooper and his family.
A pair of area medical colleges that received state grant funding in the fall are now investing the funds toward technology and new programs with the intent of attracting more students to the nursing profession.