The city's soccer enthusiasts are kicking for more places to play.
According to Keven Stratton, a soccer parent, resident and owner of the Cascade Fairways Golf Course, that means at least 4,600 residents are eager to play the game."We have 3,000 youngsters playing soccer, 1,000 in high school and 600 adults. That represents 220,000 units of soccer play going on in Orem," Stratton recently told the City Council.
"We're here to give you an SOS- `Support Orem Soccer,' to ask you to create a vision for the future. We'd like to see a soccer center that can provide for that future," he said.
He handed over a petition with 500 signatures from people who say they would support a soccer center and participate in its creation.
"We're not here asking for you to do this for us. We're looking to you to be a partner," Stratton said. "We would ask that you establish an ad hoc committee to look into the possibilities and the costs."
He suggested a soccer center that would sit on about 30 acres.
Dave Wooley, who has pushed for a soccer center for the past several years, says 30 acres is a minimum size. Forty acres would be wiser, he said Wednesday. He also said an indoor/outdoor play center would be the ideal.
"We wouldn't meet our current needs with less than that, and we ought to look into the future," he said.
Stratton said the city has three fields and shares another field with baseball and football teams. Another field is being finished at the city cemetery. There are 13 fields the league shares with Alpine School District and Intermountain Health Care.
He said the need for more fields will only increase. Soccer is the fastest-growing sport in the United States, the population in Orem is rapidly increasing and more youth are playing soccer on into their adult-hood.
"Orem is the center of soccer in Utah Valley," he said.
Jill Bowler, president of the Orem youth soccer league, said interest in the sport is growing so quickly that young players are being turned away because the league can't meet the demand.
"Our league has been recognized on a state level for the most growth," she said. "That's good and that's bad because that presents a lot of challenges."
Bowler said not only does the city need more fields, the current fields are being damaged by overuse. Some of the fields don't meet national guidelines for soccer play, and none have lights, which limits games to daylight hours. Because league officials have so many games to schedule, some games are being completed in darkness.
Chris Gibb, a soccer mom and vice president of the soccer organization, said she has been amazed at the support she has found for a soccer center. She said lighted fields would be welcome along with a league office, restrooms, adequate parking, drinking fountains, playground equipment and a place to store equipment.
City Manager Jim Reams said the city is aware of the need for more soccer facilities. The city is proposing to purchase approximately 38 acres with Vineyard City and Alpine School District that would reap 19 acres for city soccer fields north of the proposed golf course property near 1800 West and 400 South. The proposal should come before the City Council on Nov. 10.
"We've been looking at options for a while," he said. "It's very safe to say it's been a top priority that we've addressed in a number of ways. We need to do more."
With regulation soccer fields averaging just under two acres and junior soccer fields smaller than that, Reams said the city could get eight or nine fields on the 19 acres.
While soccer fields are relatively cheap to develop, Reams said, people need to remember the facilities that go with them - such as restrooms, lights and parking lots - are not.
Soccer fields originally planned into the golf course project were deleted when it became impossible to plot them in and still retain enough space for the golf course and five-diamond baseball complex.