Build it so they can play

Construction on the South Peninsula Athletic and Recreation Center, or SPARC, building is making steady progress toward organizers’ goal of having the community recreation building open for games before the end of the year.

Volunteers began building the steel frame structure on Monday, Nov. 14 and plan to put up the fabric covering that will enclose the building shortly after Thanksgiving, said Daniel Zatz of the soccer association.

The Soccer Association of Homer spearheaded the building of the SPARC, including receiving a donation matching pledge from the city of Homer. So far, the soccer association has raised more than $500,000 toward the $650,000 cost of the building.

“We’ve just had tremendous support from the community — non-stop positive input from people and tremendously generous contributions from all corners of the community,” Zatz said.

The building will provide space for community members of all ages to stay active, especially when the weather is less than accommodating.

“The community has needed SPARC, the need has increased as our climate has warmed up and our winters have been changing to the degree that our kids have much less snow for winter sports, their school fields have been muddy and closed by the district so they don’t have places to run around,” Zatz said.

Before the building can open, there are still many other details to attend to, Zatz said. After the steel frame and fabric covering are placed, the interior structure, insulation, heaters, and other equipment must be installed. Volunteers are still needed to help with tasks so the building can open as planned. Interested community members can reach out via the SPARC Homer Facebook page or called Zatz at 299-1885.

“Anybody who wants to help should contact us and we’ll see how we can plug them in,” Zatz said. “No good help should be turned away.”

Over the winter, SPARC will host beach volleyball, beach soccer and luaus, Zatz said. Since asphalt companies will not be open until the spring, the floor of the recreational complex will be filled with sand. In the spring, the asphalt will be put down over the sand, and then covered with a rubberized floor.

Once the building’s rubberized floor is put in, SPARC will be open for a variety of recreational activities, Zatz said.

“We’ll be playing indoor soccer and pickleball, and Little League and softball folks will be able to start practicing passing the ball. (There’s space for) indoor walking, there’ll be a great space for parents and their kids to run and play, ultimate Frisbee, and maybe electric model airplane during some hours,” Zatz said. “The Zumba folks are excited about using the space too.”

The fees for using SPARC are expected to be $3 per person, about the same as activities through the city’s community recreation program. Though SPARC will remain separate from city operations, the soccer association is working with Mike Illg so that SPARC enhances the community recreation schedule instead of competes with it.

“SPARC is a step in meeting the community’s recreational needs, but it’s by no means the end. It will help. It doesn’t solve everything. It’s a large facility but we probably will recognize we need something larger. As the community sees how busy this will be, we expect 100 percent utilizations, perhaps we can organize to work on the next project.”

Anna Frost can be reached at