PUBLISHED: 5:27 PM on Wednesday, October 1, 2008
New indoor turf field opens to the public
Juneau has a new $4 million indoor sports facility that opened for business Sept. 13. The Wells Fargo Dimond Park Field House, a 29,000 square-foot facility featuring an Astroturf field, pitching machines, and a three-lane running track surrounding the field, opened its doors to the public Sept. 13.

The new $4 million indoor sports facility will be used for soccer, baseball and softball. Construction of the facility was spearheaded by the Juneau Community Foundation, a local non-profit organization.

Erik Stimpfle
  The Midnight Suns Arena Softball team practices on the Wells Fargo Dimond Park Field House, a 29,000 square-foot facility.
Reed Stoops, president of the foundation, said he started thinking about the facility about four years ago. While traveling with his son's youth soccer team, Stoops noticed that other communities such as Whitehorse, Anchorage, and Wasilla had nice indoor soccer fields.

"I just figured Juneau could use (a field) because of our weather," he said. "The kids were just playing in gyms and at that time there weren't any turf fields outdoors, just dirt and mud fields."

Stoops is a lobbyist by trade and was able to work with former Juneau Legislator Bruce Weyhrauch to secure $4 million in legislative appropriations. The money came from selling Tobacco bonds. The bonds were financed using the state's share of a $206 billion lawsuit settled in 1998, and scheduled to be paid out to 45 states by four tobacco companies. The bonds were used to finance construction projects throughout the state.

Erik Stimpfle photo
  Caitlyn Vodnansky enjoys the benefits of the new Wells Fargo Dimond Park Field House. She was among the girls participating in Midnight Suns Arena League Softball.
Though the facility wasn't cheap, leasing the land will be.

"We ended up getting land from the city for a dollar a year lease at Dimond Park," Stoops said.

The Juneau Community Foundation donated time to administer the money to build the facility. Stoops said the only thing they paid for was the construction costs and that community members donated their time to help build the facility. Stoops estimated that about $500,000 worth of in-kind services were volunteered for the project.

Local architects from Jensen Yorba Lott, Inc., donated their time to help plan the facility. Wells Fargo also donated $50,000 to help offset administration costs and was given the naming rights for six years in return for their donation. Another private citizen donated $10,0000. Stoops said all of these donations help them to offer the facility at a lower cost.

The Juneau Community Foundation also created a Dimond Park Field House Board to oversee the facility. The board has contracted Eaglecrest to run the day to day operations.

Eaglecrest Manager Kirk Duncan said his organization has plans to use the facility leading into to skiing season.

"It is attractive to us because it (will) allow us a sales location in the valley to sell season passes," Duncan said. "People (will be able to) drop off their skis and snowboards here to be repaired. It gives us a chance to market to all the kids that play soccer, softball, and baseball."

The facility schedule is already filling up with youth and adult sports groups playing soccer, baseball, and softball. There are slots open between 9-11 p.m. on weeknights and during the day.

Dimond Field House supervisor Jeremy Gleason said they are looking at a proposal for a flag football league. Gleason said they hope to have the running track open to the public by Oct. 1, though a user fee has not yet been determined.

People with questions about using the facility can contact Diamond Park Field house supervisor Jeremy Gleason at 523-4910.