Florida’s budget proposal has passed through the state legislature and is headed for the Governor’s desk. Included in this proposal is $5 million set aside for a soccer complex in Northeast Florida. This complex will become the primary training home for the Armada and Jacksonville Football Club, the youth club partnering with the team.
The project is listed in the budget as “Youth Soccer Academy and Training Grounds — Northeast Florida” and it is expected that the facility will ultimately include seven full-sized fields and a 15,000 square-foot facility. The complex will also be able to host youth tournaments.
Jacksonville.com has acquired a handout that details the specifics of the project. The project will be funded by a public-private partnership and is expected to cost around $20-25 million when it is finished.
It can be assumed that the city of Jacksonville will also put some money into the project, as the CoJ and Jax Chamber are listed as supporter’s of the project. Best case scenario probably sees the city matching state funds, but you can expect more than half of the project to be privately funded.
Something like this is an excellent addition for the city. It gives the Armada and the region’s premier youth club a state of the art facility to train and improve. Similar complexes are used extensively by the different USA national teams as they prepare for their various tournaments, as well. It will also make the city a bit more plausible for touring European clubs, as they generally look for high quality training grounds to train in.
A complex like this also makes Jacksonville much more attractive for our FIFA overlords, should the USA be selected to host a World Cup, whether that is a possible move from Qatar in 2022 or beyond. A state of the art facility for any national team to train at in between games will push Jacksonville higher up the list of possible host cities.
From the projected cost of the proposal, it looks like this facility will be one of the best in the southeastern United States. This complex is just another piece of evidence that shows Jacksonville is building itself to become the Soccer City of the South, rather than just talking about it.
Governor Rick Scott does have a line-item veto on the proposal, but there doesn’t seem to be much reason for him to use it here.