Harrisburg City Islanders President Eric Pettis says it’s time for some changes.
“Currently, we’re not where we need to be with league minimum,” said Pettis. “For us to continue to compete in this league, we have to have this stadium.”
During a press conference Thursday, Pettis and local government officials touted the benefits of a planned $14 million upgrade of the Islanders’ soccer facilities, with the goal of the project being done by 2016.
“We’re not at the finish line yet. We’ve got a lot of hard work to do,” said Pettis.
Dauphin County funded a feasibility study which, among other things, looked at the economic impact of the project. County Commissioner Jeff Haste and Pettis pointed out the upgrades are needed to maintain the viability of the team.
“The amazing thing is that we have a professional team playing on a field that is not even up to some high school levels,” said Haste. “If we lose this team, we lose a ton of talent that’s out there right now helping to coach our young kids.”
The construction would create 116 jobs, according to the feasibility study. Islanders staffing would increase by 40 people to 73 total. The Islanders expect visitors to increase to 156,000 annually, resulting in an increase of $3.4 million in spending in the region.
Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse said he supports the project but was clear about what the city’s involvement would be.
“This is not a project that’s going to be financed by the city. The city’s not guaranteeing any bonds or any aspects of this construction. The city’s not in a position to do that,” said Papenfuse.
Pettis said he’s looking for corporate sponsors, private investors and possible state matching funds to raise the capital to make the project happen. He said based on conversations he’s already had, he expects to be able to raise the money.
The project would increase seating capacity to 4,500 (roughly doubling current capacity). It would also improve the locker rooms, restrooms, concession area and other amenities. It could be used for events other than soccer, such as concerts and other sports.
To view a video produced by the Islanders about the project (including designs), click here. You can also follow @NEWstadiumHBG on twitter for updates.