BH News Service

Leaders of the unfinished Nebraska Multisport Complex say they’re making the right long-term decisions to create a top-tier sports destination for athletes of all ages. That includes, most recently, hiring a well-connected former Creighton soccer coach to manage a portion of the project.

But don’t expect to see young athletes this year at the project’s site in La Vista near Interstate 80 and Giles Road — the estimated $125 million endeavor will soon miss another self-imposed deadline.

Organizers said in November that they expected the sports fields — which are expected to host tournaments for soccer, lacrosse and other field sports — to open in mid-2019, but that timeline has again been pushed, now to 2020.

Mike Cassling, chairman of the complex’s board of directors, said a combination of rainy weather and a possible redesign of portions of the complex have delayed the timeline.

“We want to do it right,” Cassling said. “We’ve said all along that we want to make this world-class, and sometimes that just takes time to get done.”

Plans for the complex near Interstate 80 and Giles Road were made public in 2015 after an effort to put the complex in Omaha fell through. It was originally scheduled to open in La Vista in 2017.

The complex is being built in two phases. The first phase includes a set of 12 artificial turf fields at a cost of $25 million and a $12 million field house.

Plans for the second phase include an aquatic center that is expected to feature an Olympic-size pool and tennis courts.

Cassling says the fields should be ready for use in spring 2020, and the field house will open that fall.

In March, the project’s board hired Craig Scriven as executive director and vice president to oversee the field-sport portion of the project.

Scriven, who was an assistant Creighton women’s soccer coach from 2015 to 2019, has many connections in the soccer world.

Along with coaching experience at the high school and collegiate levels, Scriven did research and financial feasibility work for the Iowa West Sports Plex, a 75,000-square-foot indoor turf facility that could open in December.

He did similar work for complexes in Florida and Wisconsin.

Scriven also is involved with the U.S. Soccer Federation’s Youth Task Force and the U.S. Open Cup Advisory Council, where he is the chairman of the Diversity and Inclusion Working Group.

Cassling said Scriven’s experience is paying dividends: The complex has secured letters of intent from regional and national groups across multiple sports who have committed to bringing tournaments to the complex.

Those groups — which Scriven declined to name — have long histories of running tournaments, Scriven said.

“We’re losing out on millions of dollars because these tournaments can’t come here,” Cassling said. “Everybody’s driving to Kansas City or Des Moines or Sioux Falls or elsewhere.”

Since his hiring, Scriven has been reexamining the designs of the field complex.

Cassling said the board could have specifics about the possible redesign in the next 30 days.

The multisport complex has pushed back deadlines before.

When the project was announced in May 2015, organizers said it would open in 2017.

In 2016, Cassling said the entire project would open in 2018.

Then, in August 2017, organizers announced the two-phase plan, saying the soccer fields and field house would open in spring or summer 2018 followed by the aquatic center in 2019.

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