Track and Soccer Complex releases letter

Track/Soccer Complex management committee
Since it's construction in 2019, the Track and Soccer Complex on the east side of Pratt has been used for many athletic events bringing opportunities and economic boost to the community.

The Track and Soccer Complex management committee recently released a letter to the Pratt community regarding the new facility funding, construction and use.  

The committee is comprised of representatives from the city of Pratt and Pratt Community College, appointed by TSC stakeholders.   

The letter will be sent to members of the Pratt community via U.S. Mail, inside July Pratt utility bills. Its available for viewing on the Pratt Community College website and social media channels and in the Pratt Tribune. 

Letter to the Editor: 

Greetings from the Track/Soccer Complex management committee.  

Who are we you ask? Good question. The answer to that is complex, much like the dynamics of this project. The TSC MC is comprised of representatives from Pratt Community College and the City of Pratt, appointed by the stakeholders of the TSC. We started out as the committee responsible for creating and overseeing construction of the TSC and are now charged with addressing the ongoing business and policy affairs of the complex.  

We are pleased that the TSC has become the newest Pratt treasure, alongside the Pratt Regional Medical Center, Blythe Family Fitness, Pratt Community College, Lemon Park and the Green Sports Complex. Our goal with this letter is to shed some light on how the TSC came to fruition, its early realized successes, challenges, as well as our hope and expectations for the future. The city of Pratt utilized the hope of an exceptional community asset to selflessly overcome challenges.  

Unprecedented interlocal agreements, leases and committees were crafted with much work and care which led to the construction of a premier facility for the community of Pratt. Land and Water Conservation Fund grant funds were used for the GSC and the TSC as well. The city of Pratt agreed to offer $2.7 million in industrial revenue bonds to raise the necessary capital to pay for the construction, with PCC being responsible for the bond debt. The city has no financial risk, they are in essence a pass-through holder. PCC makes annual payments from privately raised funds to pay the debt. USD 382 has also expressed its commitment to our community by donating meaningful dollars to the project; rarely is such cooperation and collaboration seen from three separate taxing entities in one community.  

Everyone involved with this process was and is well aware that challenges would arise and continue, however, when anyone considers the benefits of such a facility to our community, challenges are gladly met and resolved.  

To date the TSC has hosted several events. Pratt High School and Pratt Middle School hosted separate track meets and between these two events over 1300 participants and spectators came to our community. In addition, as a community partner, the city of Pratt schedules a variety of youth activities including soccer, flag football and Pratt Track Club events to name a few. The Pratt Track Club event had over 500 participants and attendees. Pratt Community College also hosted an event that had 16 different schools competing and brought around 750 participants and fans to the community. Inclusive community usage is a primary goal of this project; as evident in the ever-expanding opportunities in the city of Pratt Recreation programming.  

All area kids reap the benefits of the accessibility of this first-class facility; many of which live outside of the city of Pratt. Community access is available when community partner events are not scheduled. We would invite you to drive by the facility on weekends, evenings and especially in the summer and see how many people are using the facility for general recreation. It is awesome to see. The Pratt community has done something extraordinary and had to do it in ways no other entity or entities have before. Need, vision, determination, and love of community all came together in the form of a truly remarkable partnership. Managing an unprecedented facility is difficult and made more difficult by the makeup and nature of the stakeholders.  

A common misconception is that the TSC can be maintained, managed and funded like the Greens Sports Complex. The GSC is completely city-owned and was paid for by using a temporary sales tax increase. The TSC is on a tract of land donated to the city with the stipulation that it be used for outdoor recreation projects and is leased to PCC for the next 20 years. The PCC Foundation has embraced the continuing challenge of private fund-raising to pay for the initial construction. The PCC Foundation sought and continues to seek support from alumni, friends, foundations, grants, and even tax credits. A large number of local business and community members made significant financial contributions to help bring this project to fruition. Over 40% of the funds raised have come from outside of Pratt County. When contemplating the funding for the TSC the intent was for local and regional entities to become community partners. This is a community facility, and the support by community partners is crucial. Community partnership members are entitled to exclusive scheduling for events like track meets, practices, soccer matches and football games.  

Continued efforts are taking place attempting to bring additional community partners on board. Exclusive use of the facility is possible by contacting the City of Pratt or Pratt Community College. This $3.6-million-dollar project is an incredible accomplishment for a community of under 7,000 people; made more incredible by the fact that, other than federal grants that were used for the Green Sports Complex, including the track/soccer facility, no tax dollars were spent in its construction. PCC still has $850,000 yet to raise to completely pay for the facility. The ongoing costs for the facility over the next 10 years are projected to be substantial. These costs are a variable ratio of funding from PCC, city of Pratt, and private donations set and managed by the management committee. The data that is being collected and the conversations that are being shared are helpful in determining what fee schedules are necessary to keep this facility available for athletic and community events as well as available to members of the community. The TSC is an amazing asset for patrons to have a comfortable place to run and walk and practice their skills at no cost. The direction that the TSC management committee takes in the future will be the function of much cost/benefit analysis and resource assessment. 

Management, marketing, programming and fee structure need to be established with diligence and discernment; the goal of which is maximum benefit to the community as a whole. A careful and responsible funding policy must be created even though such a policy may be unpopular. Coaches, administrators, and state officials from all over Kansas and beyond have stated their delight in the facility and have requested arrangements for the TSC to host significant sporting events in the foreseeable future. We anticipate hosting KJCCC conferences and regional events as well as area high school conferences, regional and KSHSSA events. Each of these events will bring added revenue to Pratt. The events held last spring added revenue to the local economy which was great for the community and part of the reason this community concept has support from donors. The economic impact to our community that is provided when our parking lots are full of vans and busses, when athletes are all over the fields, and when the fans are stacked around the various events to enjoy competition at its best is immense.

The community of Pratt is blessed to have a new state of the art facility; the benefits of which are already being realized by our regional community and is poised to do much more! Feel free to contact the current members of the Management Committee with any questions.  

Larry Eisenhower, Gary Schmidt, Zach Deeds, Dr. Michael Calvert, Tim Swartzendruber