After over a decade of efforts from multiple association presidents and board members, Jacksonville Soccer Association are entering the final of stages of completing a brand new concession stand and restrooms right next to the soccer fields. While the end result is in reach, former Jacksonville President Sergio Hernandez explained that the process was not without its speed bumps.
“The timeline can go back 10 or 12 years of past presidents trying to go through our city to get something done. When I took over as president four years ago, my approach was to start knocking on doors,” Hernandez said. “I went to City Hall, I went to the Parks and Recreation department, I attended meetings and I provided spreadsheets explaining that having a concession stand would be nice for the fields, but it would also bring money to Jacksonville as a whole.”
Hernandez pointed out that the initial goal with going to City Hall was to make long overdue repairs to the soccer fields and restrooms, but now a partnership has been struck up between the city and Jacksonville Soccer Association with the ultimate goal to provide the best soccer experience possible.
Concession Stand diagram
“My strategy was to show pictures of what the kids were playing in and to forward complaints from parents about how the conditions were not safe,” Hernandez said. “There was a change up in the Parks and Recreation department and the City Manager, and there was more a sports background. The new people started listening to us and said this was something that should have happened a long time ago. We were being overlooked, and it was time to make everything right.”
While the process to get approval was lengthy, once plans were made and everything was signed off on, the implementation happened quickly with the 1300 square foot concession stand being expected to be completed in March. Hernandez noted that the concession stand will serve as a landmark for a city that has a rich soccer background.
“Moving forward, I think this is a really big deal. Soccer has always been big in Jacksonville. Our high school teams have always had success, but we didn’t have a landmark,” Hernandez said. “Now we can have teams come from surrounding cities to play in tournaments on a safe, smooth surface.”
The plan is to have the city assist in manning the concession stand, and in turn, the profits will go straight back into the maintenance of the fields, a cycle that Hernandez is excited about. On March 30th, Jacksonville hopes to put bring out city members for the Spring Kickoff tournament in order to showcase the improvements and celebrate the new landmark for the city.
“We are hoping to have a successful tournament that mirrors our Tomato Fest tournament in June,” Hernandez said. “Our project has just now started, and we hope to put more work into the fields in the future.”
Hernandez emphasized the importance of past presidents Brad Jacobson and Todd Travis, who laid the ground work so that Hernandez didn’t have to start from scratch. Hernandez, who is now role of registrar due to his daughter being a senior, can add his name to the list of past presidents who have made an impact.