Youth Soccer Association Eyeing Canby as ‘Ideal’ Location for Sports Complex

A statewide youth soccer organization has announced its desire to build a major sports and recreational complex in Canby, which supporters say would be a boon to local businesses and economic growth.

A representative of the nonprofit Oregon Youth Soccer Association (OYSA) told the Canby City Council Wednesday that the proposed complex would also serve as the home of its many tournaments and other operations.

“The OYSA Foundation, which has community leaders in Canby on its board, has been empowered to seek out a new and permanent space for OYSA’s ecosystem to call home,” said Patrick Sampson, founder and CEO of Cogeo, a consultancy firm hired by OYSA to guide them through the development process.

“The foundation has identified the Canby community as an ideal geographical location and civic partner.”

OYSA operates as the governing body of amateur recreational and competitive youth soccer in Oregon, Sampson told the council, while its foundation focuses on promoting equity and inclusion for youth and creating opportunities for communities to grow and strengthen together through the game of soccer.

Sampson said the complex would include multiple sports fields for soccer, baseball, softball and lacrosse, serving Canby and surrounding cities, statewide participants, and regional and national youth sports traveling teams.

“OYSA’s reach in soccer is strong because of its operating position as the state governing body, and as such, provides a unique opportunity to bring consistent and meaningful economic impact to the city as a central hub from and outside the region,” he said. “Other local youth sport partners would be encouraged to replicate the same.”

The complex would also feature an amphitheater for entertainment and community events, river access and walking trails around and throughout the facility.

“Beyond youth sports, OYSA understands the importance to the city that the facility be accessible to its members and serve a diverse set of needs for recreation and entertainment that is attractive to the full spectrum of Canby’s resident demographics,” Sampson said.

The OYSA Foundation would lead the campaign to build and manage the facility, he added, while also partnering with other sports groups to meet their operational needs in the area.

The foundation fronted the expenses for Cogeo’s involvement in the project and is taking the lead on fundraising for its construction. It is also committed to managing the facility after it is built “in partnership with the city in whichever fashion it envisions,” Sampson said.

The group met with the Canby Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors on Tuesday and offered a more in-depth presentation on its vision for the multi-field complex, according to board member Jim Davis, who also serves as Canby fire chief and a member of the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

He gave his colleagues on the parks and rec body a report on the presentation at their meeting later that day. Davis said one big selling point for Canby was its geographical location more or less in the center of the two largest regions OYSA serves, Portland and Salem/Keizer.

Although Sampson did not mention a specific location in mind during his comments at City Council, Davis said he told the chamber board that one possible location they have looked at is the Wayside properties, a bundle of approximately 100 acres of lands the city owns off Northeast Territorial Road, near the Willamette River.

Though the city owns the property, the majority of it lies outside city limits, meaning the project would also have to coordinate with Clackamas County. About three-quarters of it is also encumbered by a conservation easement, which currently restricts any construction not directly related to its natural preservation.

A portion of the property has recently resurfaced in discussions as the home of the long-delayed Canby Dog Park, which the council is expected to take up following the completion of the city’s parks and recreation master plan in April.

Davis said the foundation may pursue American Recovery Plan Act and Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds, which they believe the project would be eligible for due to its positive impact on the local economy and infrastructure.

A copy of the group’s presentation provided to the Current estimated the complex would host three large tournaments and 180 teams per year, generating nearly 20,000 new visitors, 10,000 room nights at area hotels and more than $3 million in annual economic impact for lodging, dining, entertainment, retail and travel expenses.

The team also predicted an increase of $337,500 in annual tax revenues to the city and other taxing districts.

“This could be in huge in regard to the possibility of adding business to Canby,” he said. “They had a lot of data that showed the kind of support it would mean to businesses in Canby.”

The chamber board was “unanimous” in its support of the group and their vision for Canby, Davis said.

Before council, Sampson had said he is open to meeting with any other community groups to better understand the community’s needs for youth sports facilities and recreational opportunities.

“This includes a strong intention to continue to meet with diverse groups for an equitable approach to shaping out the beginning stages of the vision and how it can best meet the needs of all stakeholders,” he said. “So far, every group we have had a meeting with about the idea has been ecstatic about it.”

Sampson said in an email this week that Cogeo and OYSF plan to soon launch a feasibility study for the project, which would take four to five months to complete and provide a recommended path forward. The soccer foundation alone is footing the bill for the study.

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