MRC soccer fields are better, but more work is needed

June 6, 2018

The Municipal Recreation Complex holds so much promise — if you like softball.

Soccer seems like the red-headed stepchild of the complex.

Before we delve further, let’s give the city of Santa Fe credit for putting $500,000 into the soccer fields to help improve them. And let’s give credit to the people involved with the Santa Fe Soccer Complex for being the driving force behind it. It truly is money well spent, considering how bad the fields were.

But the job is not done yet. It’s merely a necessary start for a complex that could be something special.

It was, for the first few years. The MRC was a place for club and adult soccer tournaments, as well as league and prep soccer play. It didn’t take long, however, for conditions to deteriorate as the city neglected the fields.

If it weren’t for the efforts of the Santa Fe Soccer Complex, the odds are high we’d still be talking about how dangerous the fields are and how no one wants to play on them.

A first look at the (slightly) refurbished fields should be encouraging for the immediate future. The reseeding in some areas that previously were just dirt appear to be working — although it looks odd to see green grass meshing with the used yellow-green turf — and some of those potholes that players had to avoid are filled with sand. The irrigation system appears better, although the broken pipe on the second field needs to be fixed soon.

The sand that is mixed with the grass in front of the temporary goals on the third field is a temporary fix, especially if the field takes on the usual traffic in the summer and fall. The sand will be mostly gone by August and September, and the new grass might not survive if some of the available fields are overworked.

If the city wants to make good on its investment, it needs to work with Santa Fe County and the Santa Fe Soccer Complex. The group understands how important soccer is to the community, and it needs a place besides the Downs at Santa Fe to help continue the sport’s growth. The fact that Santa Fe is crawling with charter and private schools that have prep soccer programs but no facilities to house them adds a sense of urgency.

Monte del Sol, Academy for Technology and the Classics, Tierra Encantada, Desert Academy and Santa Fe Waldorf struggled to find homes last year, and they deserve a place where they can practice and play.

If anything, the past decade has been an example of how much soccer has grown in the city. Monte del Sol has had a strong boys program for the past eight years. Tierra Encantada boys won a district title in just its second year as a varsity program.

The best thing for soccer is for the city and the county to establish a partnership with the Santa Fe Soccer Complex, especially since it is asking to oversee the fields. Given the constraints budgets are these days, getting any help should be welcomed.

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