Plans for soccer complex on eastern edge of Lawrence moving forward again
photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo
Basketball may be king in Lawrence, but soon soccer may be the first sport you see coming into town. Plans for a new soccer complex along the South Lawrence Trafficway east of Lawrence are moving forward again.
I reported in 2016 on plans to convert a farm field just west of the water ski lake along Kansas Highway 10 into a soccer complex that would include five full fields. Then the project never materialized.
“It has been quite a task,” said Joe Comparato, who is the lead organizer for the project. “It started with a couple of coaches wanting to put some fields in to train, and we have sure learned a lot since then.”
They learned there is engineering work to be done, floodplain permits to be pulled and a host of other requirements that are part of the development process. But the group has stuck with it, and Comparato said the engineering and permit work is now done. He hopes to break ground on the project in the spring and be open in the fall.
Comparato is the director of the Lawrence-based Jambars Futbol club. (Futbol means soccer, nil-nil means the game is still scoreless, and offsides means . . . well, I’ll have to get back to you on that.) Jambars will be one of the main users of the complex. Jambars provides training and teams for youth from kindergarten through high school. Since the nonprofit club opened in 2015, it has had about 230 players, but the number would be a lot more if it had the space to provide training and additional games, Comparato said.
“We hope to double or triple that amount once we get into the facility,” Comparato said.
photo by: Courtesy: Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Department
The Lawrence Adult Soccer League also plans to use the facility, Comparato said. That organization has about 900 members and currently can’t play all the games it wants because of limited field space. Comparato said the league is expected to go from about 10 to 12 games per weekend to 18 to 24 games per weekend, once the facility is opened.
The third group to use the facility will be the Bishop Seabury boys and girls soccer programs, which Comparato coaches. The private school currently uses a city field at the sports complex at Clinton Lake.
Unlike some soccer complexes in neighboring communities, the project is being funded entirely with private funds and without tax incentives. Comparato said the three main tenants would provide rental fees to the complex and some tournaments would attract regional teams that also would produce income for the complex.
Comparato also hopes to develop an active sponsorship program for the complex and thinks its location will play well for that cause. Tens of thousands of motorists going between Johnson County and Lawrence each day will see the complex along K-10.
If you are still confused about the location, the complex is on the south side of K-10, just east of the Lawrence city limits. It is right near the mass of bridges and looped entrance and exit ramps that were built as part of the South Lawrence Trafficway project.
You can’t get to the complex site directly off of the highway. Instead, most people will get to the site by using Noria Road, which is the city/county street that runs just east of the East Hills Business Park. Noria Road, also known as East 1750 Road, travels over K-10 via bridge. Once you get over that bridge, the entrance to the complex will be on the right. More specifically, the entrance to the complex will be that intersection of East 1750 Road and North 1300 Road.
Longer term, city and county plans call for 31st Street to be paved and widened all the way out to that area. Comparato thinks the area has great potential to be a recreation hub. Just east of the proposed soccer site is the small lake that already is used by a local water ski club. The area has another 40 to 80 acres that easily could be converted to other outdoor recreation uses.
“We hope that our little project can catapult that corner into something really cool,” he said.
As for other details about the project, its name will be Calcio Village (“calcio” is an Italian reference for soccer). The site plan below shows the general layout of the fields and parking arrangements. The site will include a couple of small modular buildings to house offices and meeting space for the soccer academy, Comparato said. When the site hosts tournaments, he said it likely would use food trucks to provide concessions. The site has most of its land use approvals in place from the county. It was granted a conditional use permit when it applied back in 2016. It currently has a site plan before the planning department that revises the layout of the fields slightly to accommodate changes that had to be made for the stormwater detention areas.