Fields of Dreams, a proposed 120-acre, multi-sport complex in Centreville, is well on its way to completion, with the first phase of five to be finished by late fall.
Phase 1 calls for the paving of a turn lane into the complex grounds located off Bull Run Post Office Road in Centreville, as well as constructing a parking lot. Once completed, the Southwestern Youth Association (SYA) will have access to five practice fields, three of which have been built. The proposal calls for 10 fields total.
"We are kind of one foot in front of the other, so to speak," said Gary Flather, president of SYA. "Each phase is going to depend on the capital and resources that are available."
The estimated cost for this phase of the project is a half million dollars, which is a fraction of the total $10 million price tag. The fields are being funded from both corporate and private donations, but Flather said they can still use more community help.
"Any kind of assistance will help," said Flather. "If someone can answer the phones three days a week it frees up somebody to do something else."
SYA has also planned a series of fund-raisers including its first travel tournament titled the "Cardinal." The tournament will include 75 soccer teams from 24 clubs in Maryland, the District and Virginia heading off the weekend of Aug. 21-22. The tournament will be broken down into 18 divisions by ages and levels of play so that one team will emerge from each division. All the profits raised will be used in the building of the Fields of Dreams.
"We decided to create a tournament now because it was the right time and the club is behind us," said Glenn Cornell, tournament director. "It's a battle for everybody to fight for fields during the regular season ... any money we make will go to the Fields of Dreams to ease this problem."
According to the Fairfax County Needs Assessment, the county is short 117 rectangular athletic fields and multiple diamond fields.
"The completed project is going to help the county, and the county has been a huge help," said Flather. "Supervisor Michael Frey has been very influential in helping us to get to the point where we are. He has spoken on behalf of the project, he has told us who to talk to, he has just been a tremendous help."
“The Fields of Dreams is part of the larger youth sports program,” said Supervisor Michael Frey (R-Sully). “I am a huge fan of the program, it gives kids something to do. It at least tires them out, so that they are not joining gangs or stealing cars.”
The idea behind Fields of Dreams is not a new one. Former SYA President George Cherneski first brought it to the SYA board's attention eight years ago. It had been Cherneski's dream to build a world-class athletic development with Level One fields, and in one of the most important decisions of his tenure, Cherneski purchased the land for the athletic fields.
“It was what George called the ‘wow effect’. He wanted kids to step on these fields and just be blown away,” said Frey. “It was George’s dream to create fields that were tournament quality so the youth could play on. I think so far we are doing that.”