Thanks to sweltering weather, the two new artificial turf soccer fields at the Harmony Sports Complex were in fact a hot commodity when they opened on Friday.
“On this weekend everybody would much rather play on grass, which is quite ironic,” Sean Janson said as he watched two girls teams play in midday sunshine. “But I don’t think we’re going to get any complaints from anybody. They’re so happy to see this done.”
Janson is the executive director of Washington Timbers FC youth soccer club. Completing a turf-field project was in the club’s plans for several years. When he took over club operations in January, Janson said building them was a priority.
The two fields at the south end of the Harmony Sports Complex in east Vancouver were completed just in time to host games during the Clash at the Border, a kickoff youth soccer tournament that draws teams from around the Pacific Northwest. The first game was played at 11:15 Friday, shortly after a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Janson was thankful that Nutter Construction and field installer Baez Sports Group were able to complete the fields in time for the big tournament.
Both fields will be lighted, which means their value will be seen not in the heat of summer but during fall and winter months when demand is high for playable surfaces.
“There’s no lack of need for turf fields, and lighted turf fields especially,” said Jay Chester, president of the Washington Timbers board of directors.
The club has owned the artificial turf for the fields for several years. It was purchased at a discount when another fields project in the region stalled. A loan from the not-for-profit Craft3 accounted for much of the $1.3 million the club borrowed to complete the $1.8 million project.
The turf fields were a commitment the soccer club made two years ago when it and Cascade Little League agreed to a new 30-year-lease with Clark County, which owns the Harmony site.
To pay back the loans, the club will rent the fields. For Washington Timbers teams, the cost will be $100 an hour. For others, the cost will be $125 an hour. Janson said that teams not affiliated with Washington Timbers FC can begin reserving field time on Thursday.
The lights should be installed by August, Janson said. They will come in handy nice the days grow shorter in late September and through the winter.
Those short, damp days are when the real value of the new fields will shine through.
“It’s going to be neat,” Chester said, adding that besides soccer, the fields will be a resource for lacrosse clubs and others who have a challenge finding places to train or to play games.
These two fields do not have any spectator seating. They represent the first phase of a project that Chester and Janson hope soon includes a third lighted field that can be the club’s stadium.
“We had to show commitment. We had to get these first fields in. And we’re now getting lots of people to talk to us” about the fields, Chester said. “It’s just really heartwarming. We have a lot of people coming to us saying, ‘Gosh, this is great.’ “
Harmony artificial turf soccer fields
What: Two synthetic-grass lighted fields.
Where: Harmony Sports Complex, 1500 NE 192nd Ave., Vancouver.
Field rental: $125 per hour ($100 per hour for Washington Timbers teams).
Reservations and information: www.washingtontimbers.com.