Soccer Field Development Project


Background Information

The City of Ithaca's McNabb Park, also known as the "Ithaca Fairgrounds" has been in existence for nearly a century. The facilities currently include general fairgrounds with animal and exhibit buildings, horse/harness racing track, rodeo arena, mountain bike trail, and soccer fields.

The American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) Region 1163 utilizes the existing soccer fields for its programming, serving nearly 500 area youth on an annual basis. Weekend tournaments regularly bring upwards of 2,000 visitors to Ithaca. The current soccer facilities are near capacity, and AYSO Region 1163 has initiated a pilot program called the VIP Soccer Program, which targets mentally and/or physically disabled children to participate in soccer programming -- something that is not offered anywhere in the entire mid Michigan region.

See video below for more information about the AYSO VIP Soccer Program:

In addition, further demand is pending from Ithaca Public Schools Athletics, which would like to utilize the facilities for soccer team practices and tournaments, as they are currently unable to hold home tournaments due to a lack of adequate on-site fields.

Growth Opportunities

In late 2007, the City Council recognized that support for the growing area soccer programs is vital to the local business community, area families, and especially our youth.  The City successfully applied for a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Site Acquisition Grant worth $55,000 in 2007, which funded 75% of the purchase price of a 10-acre parcel adjacent to the existing McNabb Park, with plans to develop it into additional barrier-free, handicapped accessible soccer fields and multi-purpose grounds for other events.

In 2009, the City applied for a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Development Grant worth $203,700 to complete grading, new parking facilities, barrier-free pathways, and viewing areas, but unfortunately was denied after its first attempt.  In 2010, the City completed a new Recreation Master Plan, which included the McNabb Park Soccer Field Development as its #1 priority.  A revised MDNRE grant application was submitted, and the City hopes to be notified of its success in late 2010.

In the meantime, the City successfully applied for a Gratiot County Community Foundation grant worth $6,179, which allowed the City to conduct much of the needed preliminary engineering work and some site preparation activities so that the City can quickly complete the remaining work upon award of the MDNRE Development Grant.  The Gratiot County Community Foundation's support allows the City to better communicate and show the DNRE and other interested parties exactly where and how the land will be developed and used.

Project Information

See aerial photo of existing soccer fields and planned expansion area:

Download PDF diagram of proposed new soccer field / multi-purpose area:


How to Get Involved

The City of Ithaca welcomes your assistance in making this project a reality.

Please contact Chelsey Foster, City Manager, for more information on how to get involved.
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