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Local Economies Can Score Big with a Winning Sports Complex

by Woolpert

When Manchester Meadows opened in Rock Hill, SC, in 2006, the city knew it had scored big with a well-designed soccer complex. The facility was built for less than $13 million and in the last five years, tournaments at the city’s various fields have brought approximately 240,000 people to town with an estimated economic impact of $36 million. The most recent tournament, the U.S. Youth Soccer Championship Series held from July 25 to July 29, was expected to bring approximately $3 million into York County’s economy alone. What’s at the heart of this success? Well, in the words of U.S. Youth Soccer spokesman Todd Roby in a recent Rock Hill Herald article, “It’s one of the best. Without a doubt.”

The 70-acre Manchester Meadows complex comprises eight competition size soccer fields (two championship synthetic turf fields, and six tournament natural turf fields); a 9,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art, two-story soccer pavilion (with a 300-person meeting facility, administrative offices and concession facilities); 250-person pond pavilion with support facilities including a large playground, shelters and walking trails overlooking a two-acre pond. In addition, a half-mile greenway trail runs along Manchester Creek crossing a series of four pedestrian bridges (with the largest spanning 125 feet). More stats on the complex are highlighted in another Rock Hill Herald article.

At the heart of this community treasure is the two-story soccer pavilion, providing a major focal point for the park and oriented to maximize the use of daylighting and minimize solar heat loads. Architecturally, this building provides a unique, striking and memorable experience for park visitors and is designed to resemble the past “mill town” image of Rock Hill.

While it was constructed six years ago, it’s worth mentioning some of the more challenging aspects of this project that were overcome so it could become the world-class complex it is today. Planning this complex over old sewage required relocating an on-site stream channel and constructing a new park over two main sanitary sewer lines built in the early 1930s. The team also faced major challenges redeveloping a brownfield location, planning the complex over a 1950s sewage lagoon field located in a floodplain. The team capped the lagoon with on-site soil and carefully placed the soccer pavilion using a geo-pier foundation.  A detailed sub-drainage system captures all site runoff in an aesthetic stormwater pond that provides total suspended solids removal and protects the water quality in neighboring Manchester Creek.  The site was pre-engineered to accept gray water irrigation from the city for use on the soccer fields.

All in all, 60 teams from 20 states participated in the most recent tournament according to the Rock Hill Herald. The article states that even despite heavy downpours, the fields maintained their integrity. Volunteers and those who maintain the fields are integral to this, but I’m also proud Woolpert was a part of making this such a successful attraction for Rock Hill. The success of this complex is not only built on the maintenance, but also on the facilities programming, the vision to make the facility look finished and the design of the complex to mirror the community’s personality.