As teams all over Boca get ready for fall sports, the new fields at the Spanish River Sports Complex are open.
The new park is on Spanish River Boulevard, across the street from the Spanish River Library and just east of Don Estridge High-Tech Middle School. It has four rectangular fields that
can be used for soccer, football, rugby and lacrosse. The Soccer Association of Boca Raton is among the groups using them.
Four diamond fields can be sued for for adult softball, girls softball and various T-ball and Little League practices and games.
Arthur Koski, an attorney and engineer who oversaw its construction for the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District, said organizations offering youth and adult sports have been waiting for more facilities.
“The demand is increasing on an annual basis,” he said.
Five hundred players are expected to sign up for rugby this year. SABR is up to 3,200 participants, and East Boca Tackle Football has a few hundred. Lacrosse is catching on, too.
At the same time, the city has lost two of the five fields it has been using at Florida Atlantic University, as FAU expands its programs.
“The demand for space over there is very competitive,” Koski said.
A ceremonial opening is planned for Oct. 13, but the new park is already in use. SABR had planned pickup games there last Friday. And on Sunday, some little kids were trying out the new
The complex also includes two buildings with restrooms, small meeting rooms and covered patios with picnic tables. There are walking paths, including one under construction around the 20-acre
The project got underway in March 2011, with the clearing of the 80 acres of lake and scrubland the city had bought in 2000.
Some questioned the environmental impact of developing one of the city’s few remaining wild natural areas. The city did sell 79 acres nearby to Palm Beach County for the PondHawk
Koski said the developers worked with environmentalists on the project. They kept as many full-grown trees as possible. The park is also designed to retain its water. There is no runoff into
the lakes or nearby canals. Even with all the rains dumped by Tropical Storm Isaac, it “performed perfectly.”
He also notes that the project came in at more than a million dollars under budget, at just over $13 million. It was funded by taxes that property owners pay to the parks district.
Plans to add another two to four fields are on the drawing board.
And someday, Koski said, the lakes at the sports complex and library could be connected — and it might be possible to cross (under) Spanish River Boulevard by kayak.
– CHARLENE PACENTI