Greensboro asked to consider upgrades to Bryan Park soccer facilities
Soccer boosters in Greensboro are looking to form a partnership with the city in order to pay for upgrades that could help Bryan Park return to the forefront of national tournament sites.When Bryan Park’s soccer facilities first came on line in 1990 they quickly became a top destination for regional and national soccer events, said Pete Polonsky, Greensboro United Soccer Association’s executive director. The site played host to major regional/national championships six times between 1992 and 2010. But due to the explosive growth of soccer’s popularity in the last 20 years, other cities now have facilities that outpace Bryan Park.Local soccer events generated an economic impact in excess of $30 million in 2010, the last time a major tournament was held at Bryan Park. That number fell below $15 million in 2013, Polonsky said, as the number of large tournaments hosted here dwindled.”The reason for that is that we were hosting some of those regional and national events back in the 1990s and up to 2010,” Polonsky told city council during a recent work session. “We have not hosted one since and we will not host another one until we do something with Bryan Park.”As for the shrinking economic impact, Polonsky left no doubt what the future held if improvements to the soccer facilities aren’t completed.”It’s a big drop,” Polonsky said. “I can tell you where that number is going is lower unless we are able to do some things.”Polonsky, along with Greensboro’s Park and Recreation Director Wade Walcutt, pitched the council on the idea of building five new fields at Bryan Park, including two artificial turf fields. The total expense for the project comes to $4.5 million, with GUSA contributing $3 million via an ongoing capital campaign. The city was asked to consider a $1 million contribution, with the Greensboro Convention and Visitors Bureau putting up $500,000.The five new fields would be built to regulation size, with eight current fields being reconfigured to meet tournament specifications. The plan would include expanded parking, additional restrooms and concessions, and road improvements to ease congestion.