AYSO expresses interest in Evart for soccer fields

EVART — The city of Evart may become a local spot for a number of fields run by the American Youth Soccer Organization, as members of city council were presented with the idea at Monday's council meeting.

AYSO representatives Colt Outman and Chris Maddox discussed the idea of placing fields at the industrial park near the airport, which is property of the Local Development Finance Authority under the city. The pair said the organization provides one field per six age groups and will work with whatever space they are allotted.

The number of children interested in soccer is increasing, and the city of Reed City as well as the Tustin and LeRoy areas have fields. Having another location in Evart is desirable for the growing popularity and to have another centralized location. In addition, Evart fields could play host to an AYSO tournament, which would bring in about 800 kids to the three-day event. The representatives said they desire to have fields in place by spring of next year.

Outman and Maddox said the opportunity would provide a way to bring people into the city, which in turn would help local businesses thrive. Also, the fields themselves and the youth involved in AYSO are insured by the organization, so city liability would not be a cause for concern. Two separate field locations in the city is another option, the pair said.

City council members expressed general interest in the idea and industrial park location, but said AYSO would have to vacate the property if a business wanted to build on the land. Evart Mayor Eric Schmidt suggested AYSO look at a field located on Main Street and 7 Mile, while Evart City Manager Zack Szakacs told Maddox and Outman to consider a property by Pittsburgh Glass Works.

Schmidt said he was surprised to hear about the increasing popularity of the sport and supports AYSO's efforts to expand into the city.

"I don't know why we ever lost interest in sports after the idea of a sports complex was shut down a few years ago," he said. "I definitely think we have to grab the ball and run with it this time."

The topic will be further discussed at the next council meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 16, at the Evart Depot.