A construction crew works near the entrance of the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Tuesday, June 14, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

A construction crew works near the entrance of the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Tuesday, June 14, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna revisits field house project

City council members and administrators convened last week to talk about the project

Roughly three years after Soldotna voters defeated a bond that would have paid for a community field house, the city is ready to take another crack at getting the project done. Soldotna City Council members convened with city administrators for a work session last week to discuss where the project currently stands and potential paths forward.

The development of an indoor recreational facility on the Kenai Peninsula has been decades in the making, city officials told council members. Soldotna City Council members approved money for the design of a field house in 2015, with the subsequent two years dedicated to stakeholder meetings and design work.

Council members approved a special election for a general obligation bond for the project in 2018, but the proposition ultimately failed in March 2019 by 18 votes. Now, the city is reviving the discussion.

As designed, the 42,000-square-foot field house would be located next to and connected to the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex and would accommodate multiple types of indoor recreation.

A 215-foot by 115-foot play area with removable turf would allow for soccer, football and batting cages. The sports court could host wrestling, volleyball and roller derby. The three-lane track on the second floor would be available for walkers and runners. Indoor recreation is in addition to the other activities the space could facilitate, the city said, such as private parties, sports camps and trade shows.

A multipurpose room available for party rentals, two locker rooms, divider curtains that would allow multiple events to happen at the same time and audio and visual functionality that could be used for meetings and events are also described as proposed field house amenities.

One of the field house’s key assets, city administrators said, would be its central location. If put adjacent to the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex, the field house would be located within a 45-minute drive from 37,000 people — about 64% of the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s total population, the city estimates.

A 2018 field house feasibility analysis prepared by the University of Alaska Center for Economic Development estimated that the field house annually would bring in about $246,000 in revenue and cost about $291,000 to operate. Revenues would come from things like league sports, field rentals and events, while operating costs would include staffing, contracted services and utilities.

“Like many municipal or government functions, it’s not a windfall of revenue, but that’s not the objective of this project,” Soldotna Public Works Director Kyle Kornelis told council members last week. “We do recognize that there is a pretty significant source of income to offset the estimated operational expenses, which is wonderful.”

Kornelis said that a theme that emerged after community members narrowly defeated the 2019 proposition was that the city should take care of the facilities it already has, including the 38-year-old Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. Kornelis said last week that that’s exactly what the city has done.

About $2.2 million worth of work is scheduled to wrap up this fall at the sports complex. The City of Soldotna added to its five-year Capital Improvement Plan in 2019 the SRSC Major Maintenance and Renovation Project. The work, which began in May, includes the replacement of 55 exterior doors, the replacement of the ceiling over the bleacher and mezzanine area and repairs to the building’s locker room facilities, among other things.

The current estimated cost of the field house project as initially designed is around $18.7 million. That figure includes $16.1 million for the field house building, $1.1 million for a new lobby space that would connect the building to the sports complex, $1.2 million for interior furnishings and equipment and $300,000 for construction administration.

When the project was put before voters in 2019, the estimated cost of the building, without furnishings, was about $11.8 million. Soldotna City Manager Stephanie Queen told council members last week that the increase is partly due to cost escalation and partly due to the expansion of the lobby project area.

The Soldotna City Council’s June 8 work session can be viewed on the city’s website at soldotna.org.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Assembly President Brent Johnson asks questions of representatives of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District during a joint work session of the School Board and Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in Soldotna, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 2, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Borough to enter contract for asbestos flooring abatement in 3 central peninsula schools

The work will be done at Kenai Central High, Kenai Alternative High and Sterling Elementary schools

Alaska State Troopers logo.
1 dead, 3 missing after boat capsizes near Seward

Alaska State Troopers were notified by the U.S. Coast Guard of an overturned vessel around 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday

Kenai Central High School stands under clear skies in Kenai, Alaska, on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Borough approves contract for KCHS parking lot rehabilitation

Soldotna-based Foster Construction will be awarded the bid of $648,997 to complete the project

Central Peninsula Hospital is seen in Soldotna on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Central Peninsula Hospital to host Cancer Survivor’s Day event

The event will take place Sunday, June 2 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, speaks to the joint Soldotna and Kenai chambers of commerce at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Wednesday.
Carpenter gives wrap up on session as he nears end of House term

Carpenter is seeking election to state Senate District D

(from left to right) Jachin Sanchez, Carter Lemons, Rowan Mahoney, Adelyn McCorison and Taylor Rickard graduated from Ninilchik School on Monday, May 13, 2024 in Ninilchik, Alaska. Photo provided by Mattea Peters-Williamson
Ninilchik graduates 5 in 2024 commencement

The school held the ceremony Monday, May 13

Kenai Peninsula Education Association President LaDawn Druce, left, and committee Chair Jason Tauriainen participate in the first meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Four Day School Week Ad Hoc Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
4-day school week committee adjourns

The committee will deliver recommendations to school board in July

Soldotna Elementary School Principal Dr. Austin Stevenson points out corroded insulation outside of the school building on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 in Soldotna . (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna Elementary awaits action on approved bond

Almost two years after public OKs bond, borough asking for more time

Most Read