NORTH MANKATO — An estimated $396,000 plan to add parking lots, fencing, bleachers and trails to a 10-field soccer complex in upper North Mankato was approved unanimously Monday by the North Mankato City Council.
The council didn’t approve the spending itself, only the plans necessary to put this work, the second of three phases, out for bids. That’s slated to happen in May.
Still, taking this step was difficult for Councilman Kim Spears, who argued that Benson Park should be a higher priority because it started first and will be used by a wider swath of residents.
“If this is truly for our youth, there are plenty of soccer facilities for the youth to use,” he said.
Spears eventually voted for the plan because of the commitments made to the school district and the youth soccer club. Mankato Area Public Schools donated 10 acres and the Mankato United Soccer Club has so far donated $150,000 in cash and committed to fund a $100,000 lighting system.
“We’ve gone down a certain road,” Spears said.
Mayor Mark Dehen said the complex will help develop the area and bring tournaments to town.
“I would argue this has the opportunity to generate revenues that Benson Park will not,” he said.
Spears was skeptical: “I have yet to see one study or one proof of revenues from these things.”
The council has already spent $580,000 on the first phase, City Planner Mike Fischer said. Combined with phase three, which will include an additional parking lot, the total price for the soccer complex is estimated at roughly $1.2 million.
The city’s share comes from its half-percent local sales tax.
Resident Phil Henry asked the council if the city would be borrowing any money to build the complex. In light of the city’s recent credit downgrade, he said that would be a bad idea.