Charlotte Soccer Academy to break ground on Carolina Sportsplex this month

The nonprofit Charlotte Soccer Academy will break ground on its new sports complex in Pineville this month, giving players a home after years of using rented fields throughout Mecklenburg County.

When the 48-acre Carolina Sportsplex on Dorman Road is complete, it will feature five synthetic-turf fields, one natural-grass field, a 20,000-square-foot building for offices, a pro shop, concessions, locker rooms and showers and a gym with a sports/physical therapy center.

Charlotte Soccer Academy is a youth soccer club with levels from younger than 4 to professional development. Brad Wylde, the club’s executive director, said there are 4,500 member families in the club, the majority of from south Charlotte.

In fact, the ZIP codes associated with Ballantyne, Pineville, the Arboretum area, Matthews and Providence Plantation are home to two-thirds of members.

The organization’s new property, near the South Carolina border, is bordered to the north by Dorman Road, to the east by 22 acres owned by Duke Energy for a future substation, to the west by a small church and to the south by land acquired by the Catawba Lands Conservancy.

All fields will be fully lighted and two will be FIFA certified, meaning the facility could host professional games.

“We felt the need several years ago to really have a place to call our own home,” Wylde said.

The club holds practices for about 4,000 players at sites all over Charlotte, mostly at school and county park soccer fields. The club also has a Cabarrus County branch and a Matthews branch.

The Carolina Sportsplex has been three years in the making.

In 2011, Charlotte Soccer Academy leaders identified the site as ideal for their complex because of its location near Interstate 485 and other amenities, as well as its size and price.

The club purchased three properties, at 13317, 13333 and 13433 Dorman Road. The properties totaled 48 acres with a combined value of $1,432,300 as of the 2011 county-wide revaluation.

In December 2011, however, the Pineville Town Council unanimously rejected a conditional-use permit request from Carolina Sportsplex that would have zoned the area for a “country club,” the closest classification in the zoning ordinance at that time to a private sports complex.

In May 2012, the council approved a zoning request to reclassify the land as a recreational complex. Melissa Rogers Davis was the only council member to vote against zoning; she said she worried about traffic and parking problems.

“The whole process with the town delayed us probably about nine months,” said CSA board of directors President John Koslick.

Member families with the academy said they were thrilled to have a new venue.

“Weather right now is the major concern,” said Wylde. “We’ve had to cancel games because the grass fields would be underwater.”

Even if rain didn’t cancel games or practice, it often has resulted in “more teams squeezed on to the available turf fields,” which limited effective practices, said Ballantyne Country Club resident Jay Blackwood, whose 15-year-old son plays with Charlotte Soccer Academy.

Marvin Creek resident Kerri Denner, who has two teenagers who play with CSA, said it can get complicated quickly when participants play on several fields around the county throughout the week.

Once complete, the facility will be a central place for most of the club’s teams and office staff. There are about 15 full-time coaches and administrative staff and more than 80 team coaches.

Wylde said the CSA closed on the property in December and is working on grading it. Purchasing and developing the property will cost about $7.5 million, including $750,000 to purchase the land, more than $2 million for the turf and $1 million for the building.

Wylde said CSA hopes to open the turf fields by fall and the grass fields by summer 2015.

The building is expected to be complete by spring 2015.