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Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana)
Capital upgrades are expected in the future at Goebel Soccer Complex, with the goal of making the 15-year-old facility more competitive with newer ones in nearby communities.
The City of Evansville retains ownership of Goebel, but management has shifted to the visitors bureau, under terms of a contract approved recently by the visitor's bureau's board and the Evansville Board of Park Commissioners.
The agreement is for five years, with an option to renew for another five. The visitors bureau will maintain and promote the complex, and it will draft a list of needed improvements. One issue: the future of an artificial turf field that has been worn out for several years. All other fields are grass.
Goebel Soccer Complex, at North Green River and Heckel roads, was developed in 2002 after Vectren Corp bought the land for $1 million and turned it over to the city. In exchange, Vectren received the Riverside Drive property where its headquarters now sits. The soccer facility is named for former Vectren executive Andy Goebel.
The visitors bureau wanted to take over Goebel because of its mission to promote local tourism. The agency has oversight of tax revenues collected on local hotel and motel stays, and that money is to spent on initiatives to fill more rooms.
Goebel was built with the goal of having multiple soccer tournaments per year, but its use has dwindled as the property aged. A November tournament coinciding with Veterans Day remains on the complex's annual schedule. A spring tournament around Mother's Day still exists,too, but most teams are local.
Soccer complexes in Westfield, Indiana, and Elizabethtown, Kentucky, has lured away some of Goebel's business.
"(The city's) shortcoming was the ability to promote," said Mike Schopmeyer, attorney for the visitors bureau. "We're a promotions organization."
Visitors bureau officials noted their ownership of Deaconess Sports Park, the youth baseball and softball complex next door to Goebel, and they said it makes sense to run both facilities.
If the visitors management contract with the city terminates, the visitors bureau would get back some of the capital investment that is made at Goebel.
Negotiations over Goebel took a few months, but officials with the city and visitors bureau are happy with the result.
"Long-term marketing has been an issue there," City Parks and Recreation Director Brian Holtz said. "The parks department have the funding mechanism for that. Being able to partner with the Convention & Visitors Bureau, they can market it, and I think it's proven they do a good job, whether it's new ballfields or working with the Sports Corp. And the proximity to Deaconess Sports park makes it an ideal fit. They can utilize resources at both facilities."
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