With the NCAA Division II Soccer Championships coming to Blanchard Woods Park next December, it’s time for some major work to be done at the fields.
To that end, following the end of the county’s spring soccer season, the fields closed Saturday and won’t re-open until Sept. 1.
The 5-year-old fields are home to about 1,000 players during the fall leagues and 500 players during the spring season, in addition to use by the general public.
They have been touched up at various times, but nothing approaching the upcoming overhaul.
“We’re going to be re-sodding some fields, repairing some holes and giving them just a little bit of a break,” said Columbia County Recreation and Events Manager Stacie Adkins. “Our soccer season has ended, so this is kind of the time when we can do this.”
The county’s fall soccer league won’t begin until the end of September.
The closures will affect Wednesday night and Sunday night adult leagues, but those games have been rescheduled for the fields at Patriots Park.
One group feeling the effects of the closure is the GA-SC Bulls Soccer Club, which train and play games at Blanchard Woods.
“It has an impact on us all year, because there’s so many kids in the Columbia County area that play soccer that there’s just not enough field space to accommodate everyone,” said Bulls’ Director of Coaching Wes Meadows.
Meadows said the group probably will have to shift its games to Patriots Park and other places where they can find
“We’re playing on softball fields, seeking out local churches, looking for places to play,” Meadows said.
In addition to the college soccer championships, the fields will play host to the Peach Belt Tournament for the fifth time this fall, adding more urgency to repair them.
“We want them looking good for our programs as well,” Adkins said. “Every so often you have to do maintenance on a field anyway, and this is the time frame when we could do it.”
Meadows knows the closures are needed.
“The fields are being overused because we don’t have enough fields in the area to accommodate all the kids,” Meadows said. “At some point you have to make a decision to rest a field, so I think for the county it was a smart move to do it.”