Roy Morse Park sports complex master plan

Proposed layout included in the Roy Morse Park sports complex master plan.

The Longview City Council on Thursday approved the master plan for a proposed $87 million sports complex at Roy Morse Park. The vote indicates the council’s support for the facility, but does not formally commit to it.

The master plan compiles a variety of athletic, parks and community features into a document that could then be used to pursue grants and funding, representatives from consultant Hough, Beck and Baird Inc. (HBB) told the council during a workshop.

“This is an opportunity to shoot for the stars, get community support and then figure out what we can achieve,” Councilman Scott Vydra said.

The proposed complex includes a wagon wheel of five softball fields, one full-sized soccer field with multiple “overlays” in the softball outfields, two baseball fields, disc golf field, recreational building, loop trails, playgrounds, picnic areas, pickleball and tennis courts, spray park and fitness areas. At full build-out, it would have two entrances off of Ocean Beach Highway and Mount Solo Road.

If built all at once, the sports complex would likely cost a little more than $87 million, including design and permitting costs, and require an additional two or three parks employees.

About two dozen people attended the workshop Thursday night, many of whom seemed to support the facility.

One woman said she would like to see a greater emphasis on volleyball facilities. Soccer, baseball and softball fields, she said, have been available in the community for a long time.

“You’re overlooking a huge revenue opportunity and a large group of kids and adults,” she said.

Another man said he was worried about possible vagrancy at the park.

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“When you do a big complex like this, which is great, it needs to be used daily so people take care of it,” he said. “The biggest thing is to make sure it gets used and keeps growing and that it’s a communal thing.”

One of the main selling points, the consultants said, is that the fields would be the main sports complex along the Interstate-5 corridor between Seattle and Portland, which could bring in major tournaments.

“The big elephant in the room is funding,” Mayor Don Jensen said.

The city could potentially fully fund the sports facility through a state appropriation, a local bond or a local capital improvement program using a combination of taxes and fees. Other potential partial funding sources include sponsorships, partnerships, grants and volunteers.

HBB estimates that six tournaments would have a total revenue of $2.5 million. That means if Longview hosted a tournament every weekend, there could be a revenue of about $21.7 million. Consultants have previously said that about half of that revenue would benefit Kelso, which hosts the majority of the area’s hotels where the players are likely to spend the night.

If fully funded, the sports complex would likely take about three years to design, permit and build, according to HBB.

The council unanimously approved the master plan Thursday night. Councilman Mike Wallin was absent.

Next, Parks and Recreation Director Jennifer Wills will likely form a committee of city staff and community members to start considering partnerships and funding opportunities.

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