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Henderson County is embarking on a plan that could result in a high-quality soccer park to serve the county's robust and growing youth soccer leagues.

The Board of Commissioners on Wednesday directed its staff to begin the hunt for a site to development a sports complex that could be used for soccer plus flag football, lacrosse, Ultimate Frisbee and other sports in need of large fields,

“We accommodate baseball and softball now and we do not accommodate soccer so I think we need to start with that,” Commissioner Rebecca McCall said.

Michael Edney said that he had been advocating for improved soccer fields for years.

“We’ve studied the hell out of it. It’s time to stop studying and start acting,” he said. “We’ve got some Joe Biden money that we can spend."

County Manager John Mitchell said staff would begin looking at a "parcel of substantive size above 20 acres" for potential purchase and development for the athletic fields, rest rooms, concession stand and parking.

As the Lightning reported this week, the soccer community is strongly behind the idea of a new artificial turf soccer park that would accommodate the hundreds of kids that play soccer and also attract tournaments that would put "heads in beds" and fill restaurants.

The board's action came after soccer moms and dads urged the Henderson County commissioners to support a plan to build a $14 million soccer park that they say would serve hundreds of kids and attract regional tournaments.

First up was Stacie Worrell Marlowe, a county native who played in soccer leagues throughout her childhood. President of the Henderson County Youth Soccer Association, Marlowe said the current conditions at Jackson Park result in games and practices being called off because of flooded fields.

Dennis Justice of Fletcher said that the county should put artificial turf fields at the county's public high schools before embarking on a $14 million investment in new fields. Soccer is the No. 5 high school for boys and No. 4 for girls, he said, with track and field No. 1. "There is no field for lacrosse," he said. "Let's improve what we have."

David LeMond,a physician, soccer player and soccer dad, said a soccer complex make sense from an economic development perspective.

"I travel weekly (to soccer games) with my son," he said. "I can tell you I've experienced several soccer complexes througout the state and the region and when you see the team involvement, the number of people using it, economically it makes sense. Really it's a no brainer when it comes to a return on your investment."

Responding to Justice's remarks, LeMond said the fields could be used for multiple sports. Supporters of the outdoor sports complex say the artificial turf fields could be used for lacrosse, flag football, cricket, Ultimate Frisbee and other sports.

Eric Clonch, a soccer coach for eight seasons and father of three kids in soccer, said the artificial turf field at the county Athletics & Activity Center on South Grove Street serves soccer well, mixing children from all across the county.

"It is one facility and it needs significant improvement," he said. "It is clear that more and better soccer facilities are needed to support future and current demand."

Tricia King, a soccer mom and member of the county Parks & Recreation Advisory Board, drives all over the state taking her two sons to competitive soccer tournaments.

"I am very interested in having a facility that is larger, in one spot, where not just soccer but football and other sports that need large fields can take advantage of those opportunities," she said.

Seven people spoke in favor of a soccer park.