Rumsey Park will be home to three new sports fields in the coming year, one of which will be a professional grade multi-purpose field serving soccer and football leagues and events.
The expansion is the result of the relocation of the rodeo grounds, acquisition of additional acreage for two new baseball and softball fields and a Heritage Fund grant that will provide a world-class surface on the new soccer field. The new soccer field will be located at the southeast side of Rumsey Park, where the old rodeo grounds once stood.
The new field will provide Payson with its first regulation size soccer field with a length of 120 yards 20 yards longer than the present multi-purpose field.
"It gives us a full-size soccer field for the age levels that would play on it and also gives groups like the youth football league a full-size field," Payson's recreation coordinator Teddy Pettet said. "We're looking at putting combination goals in that area for football and soccer so you can play either sport on it and it will eventually be lighted and fenced."
It should also alleviate a significant amount of schedule congestion in the fall when football and soccer leagues compete for playing time on the field.
"We have youth football going on and high school soccer going on and we have half of the Parks and Rec soccer going on in the fall," Pettet said. "That's why we moved our older soccer division to the spring now because of the congestion problems we've had before."
Pettet said construction of the new field should begin in the early spring with the projected completion date sometime in the fall.
The Heritage Fund grant which will be applied toward the completion of the project is a matching fund grant for $195,000. Along with the Town of Payson contribution, the total cost of the project is estimated at about $390,000. Parks and Rec has just received the grant funds giving the green light to begin the project.
Payson's first venture into soccer field construction was when the town built the multi-purpose field at the north end of Rumsey Park. The field features an artificial turf which looks and feels like a regular grass field, but requires little maintenance and no watering.
"I believe we (Payson) were the first ones to ever have an actual full field of this stuff," Pettet said. "Now, the University of Washington has it in their stadium, the University of Nebraska, University of Idaho and 10 or 12 other NCAA stadiums are now using it."
The Seattle Seahawks have also been playing on the same surface as they use the University of Washington Stadium while the new one is under construction. Sports commentators there at recent games have reportedly mentioned they were surprised by the real grass appearance, the fact it plays like real grass and that the players like it.
"It's great to run on, it feels like grass, it's got the silica and rubber sand underneath," Pettet said. "It plays a little faster than grass, you don't have mud when it rains and even though it's wet, the surface doesn't change that much so you can still play on it because it doesn't get slick," Pettet said.
With the backstops already in place, Parks and Rec will soon be preparing the initial dirt surfaces of these two fields, making them ready to see their first season of play this coming spring.