The Springfield-Greene County Park Board, in partnership with Lake Country Soccer, kicked off $25 million in sports facility renovations at Cooper Park, including artificial turf upgrades on 19 sports fields, Thursday, Nov. 3, at Lake Country Soccer Dome, 2334 E. Pythian St.
This celebration, held in lieu of a groundbreaking, also served to thank state and local lawmakers who helped secure $20.8 million in ARPA funding for the project, as well as local partners and donors who are closing the funding gap.
“We are so thankful that this project is more than 85-percent funded by ARPA funds awarded by the Missouri General Assembly and Springfield City Council, along with a significant contribution by the Springfield CVB,” said Bob Belote, Director of Parks. “Lake Country Soccer and the Park Board are working hard to fill the balance through partnership organizations, private donations and sponsorships. Naming rights are availble.”
The project calls for installation of synthetic turf at 19 soccer, baseball and softball fields at Cooper Park. All but one of these are currently grass fields, which have limited playability following weather events and heavy usage. The project also calls for stadium enhancements, additional spectator seating, locker rooms, restrooms, concessions stands, accessible pathways and parking.
When complete, Cooper Park will be home to three anchor sports facilities: Cooper Tennis Complex, Lake Country Soccer Complex and the 11 baseball/softball fields which comprise the Cooper and Killian sports complexes. Each of these will be capable of hosting local, state and national tournaments.
Belote said the transformation will serve residents and visitors alike.
“First and foremost, upgrading Cooper Park by turfing 19 sports fields will give local athletes and their families a state-of-the-art place to play, right here in our own community,” said Belote. “Adding turf and other amenities restores Lake Country Soccer to destination status and creates a new baseball/softball anchor facility with Cooper and Killian. Both these facilities will attract and host larger tournaments in all kinds of weather, bringing thousands of visitors to Springfield every year, just like at Cooper Tennis Complex, which is already the best of the best.”
In October alone, Cooper Park hosted three consecutive weekends of Missouri State High School Association (MSHSAA) State Championship tournaments: Girls Individual Tennis and Girls Team Tennis at Cooper Tennis Complex, and Girls Softball at Killian Softball Complex.
The renovation project is planned to be completed in two phases over the next three years:
Phase 1, anticipated for 2024 opening
- Synthetic turf installed on eight Cooper Park/Lake Country Soccer fields on the north side of Pythian St., including upgrading the Greenwood Championship field
- Development of new Soccer Stadium environment
- New soccer field restrooms, concessions and locker rooms
- ADA-accessible walkways
- Additional soccer parking
- Additional shade and fan-friendly areas
Phase 2, anticipated for 2025 opening
- Synthetic turf installed on six fields at Killian Softball Complex and five fields at Cooper Youth Baseball Complex allowing for conversion between baseball and softball games on a total 11 turf fields
- Additional seating at Killian Softball Stadium
- New concessions and restrooms at Killian
- Conversion of one Cooper Youth field to a stadium-style environment
- Renovated Cooper Youth restrooms and concessions
- Additional shade and fan-friendly areas
Funding secured for the project includes:
- $13.5 million in ARPA funding awarded by the State of Missouri
- $7.3 million in ARPA funding awarded by the City of Springfield
- $631,274 contributed by the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau
- An accompanying project fundraising campaign is currently being spearheaded by Lake Country Soccer, in conjunction with the Park Board, partner user organizations and private donors. Field/facility naming rights are available.
Reinvestment in Cooper Park, Lake Country Soccer and Killian Softball Complex was recommended in the Springfield Sports Commission’s oft-cited 2019 Sports Tourism Strategic Planning Project, a.k.a the “Huddle Up” study, and the related Indoor Sports Facility Report and 2021 Facility Impact Analysis.
This fall, the Park Board is investing $500,000 in outdoor court resurfacing at Cooper Tennis Complex, on the heels of $600,000 of indoor court renovations financed by donation from the Cooper Family Foundation in 2019.
The 127-acre Cooper Park was established in 1983 on land donated by the late Harry Cooper and his family. Cooper Park and is now the largest sports development in the Park Board system, including Lake Country Soccer (opened in 1984), Cooper Youth Baseball Complex (opened 1988), Killian Softball Complex (acquired in 1994), Cooper Tennis Complex (opened 1994), as well as a walking trail and extensive playground. Cooper Park currently plays a primary role in hosting more than 50 regional, state and national tournaments a year in Springfield.