At a special board meeting held yesterday, the Marianas Visitors Authority allocated $250,000 for the construction of the first Northern Mariana Islands Football Association Training Center in Koblerville.
After a tour of the football field last week, MVA managing director Chris Concepcion told the board that construction is coming along.
“It is actually really beautiful and we envision this to be a world-class sporting venue. There are already groups interested to fly in and conduct training,” he said.
“Therefore, management recommends to reserve $250,000 from MVA destination and enhancement budget, similar amount to what we help fund the track and field in Oleai [beside] the Ada Gym,” he added.
Concepcion’s request was unanimously approved by the members of the board headed by chair Gloria Cavanagh.
Last October, the soccer training center project was presented to the MVA board by Ross Zapanta, general secretary of the Northern Mariana Islands Football Association.
“The Northern Mariana Island Soccer Training Center is designed to be used for international competitions, a place where local teams would have the same tools as their competitors,” he said.
“The facility will have better lighting, better grass for the safety of players, sufficient parking, and proper seats for players and spectators. It is touted as a means to improve the playing level of the athletes and promote the sport to local players as well as the community,” he added
The need for a real home for CNMI soccer came as a result of shortage of soccer fields.
According to Zapanta, partnerships with the Northern Mariana Sports Association and the Public School System allow practices and games to continue. However, fields are not proper soccer fields as they are shared with other sports and conditions are inadequate.
“The sport lacks a dedicated homefield with which no opportunity to grow and enhance our athletes,” he said.
Zapanta said the target opening is by the end of April 2018 as there were delays in shipments and materials by some vendors.
“The soccer field will actually be finished by December but we would rather not use it until full completion so we do not want to hamper construction and safety concerns above anything else,” he said.
Concepcion said that this allocation is relevant to MVA’s projects.
“Sports tourism is a very important part of MVA’s marketing efforts to promote the CNMI as a healthy destination for families and individuals. It is a part of our portfolio that’s why we want to support this project,” he said.
“We are excited about NMIFA’s project to build the soccer field. This football complex does not only cater to national teams but international teams and events as well,” he added.