Partnership has worked proved successful, BR Soccer Club official says

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Carolyn McKnight-Bray, BREC superintendent.
Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Carolyn McKnight-Bray, BREC superintendent.

The Baton Rouge Soccer Club has invested more than $2 million in soccer facilities owned by the parish parks system since striking up a partnership with BREC eight years ago.

Representatives from the nonprofit soccer organization made a presentation to the East Baton Rouge Parish Recreation and Park Commission at BREC’s monthly meeting outlining highlights of the partnership and what it has meant for the community.

The $2 million has gone toward lighting projects, goals, nets, a scheduling website, referee pay system and other upgrades.

The soccer club pays the monthly power bill for BREC’s Burbank soccer complex.

“That’s $2 million that you don’t have to spend to run a soccer program. It’s $2 million that you can invest in other programs throughout BREC,” Baton Rouge Soccer Club President Bob Johannessen said.

The commission took no action following the presentation, but several commissioners spoke positively of the partnership BREC has developed with BRSC.

“A lot of people don’t understand these types of relationships,” BREC Superintendent Carolyn McKnight said.

McKnight estimated it would cost BREC millions to offer the same services on its own.

“We don’t have to do that because of what they’re doing,” she said.

According to the soccer club’s report, it has 8,200 soccer participants playing 11,100 games a year. About 5,700 of the participants are youth.

Baton Rouge is slated to host a U.S. Youth Soccer tournament June 19-26.

The tournament, which was last held here in 2010, is expected to have an estimated $14 million to $18 million economic impact, bringing 14,000 visitors to Baton Rouge.

“This could not be done without a partnership between BREC and the Baton Rouge Soccer Club,” Johannessen said.

In other action at Thursday’s meeting, BREC approved a community relations plan — a step in its master planning process required for accreditation.

“It’s not one of those red star items, but it’s certainly one of the standards that they expect from us,” McKnight said.

BREC will have a meeting next week to wrap up its strategic planning process.