Mike Woijek, president of the Missouri Thorns Football club, briefed the Dardenne Prairie Board of Aldermen at its Sept. 16 meeting about approaching Great Rivers Greenway with the goal of leasing space to build the fields. The space in question is the Bluebird Meadow area along a trail that sits beside Dardenne Creek within the city. Currently, the area is being leased for use as a sod farm.
Great Rivers Greenway is a public parks district that is developing an interconnecting system of trails, greenways and parks throughout the St. Louis region.
Dardenne Prairie Mayor David Zucker said the Thorns want to build seven grass soccer fields on the Bluebird Meadow property at its own expense. Two of the fields would be used for games and five would be used as practice fields.
Woijek told city officials that the fields would help aproximately 350 young women, ages 4-18, to develop their playing skills, which could lead to college scholarships for some of them. The club is an all-girls soccer league associated with the Portland Thorns, a professional soccer team.
Zucker said the city would manage the space perhaps as part of a public and private partnership if Great Rivers Greenway agrees to lease the property. He said the idea may be worth considering because the fields offer multi-purpose outdoor recreation space that the city is short of and private funds would be used. Woijek could not be reached for comment.
The fields also could be used by city residents for other recreational activities such as lacrosse, rugby, kite-flying or other outdoor activities, Zucker said.
No decisions have been made and some “misinformation” about the project has circulated in the city, Zucker said. He noted that nothing will be done without full and open discussion and public participation. The board’s next meeting is at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 7.
Mike Sorth, director of conservation and community for Great Rivers Greenway, said no formal request from the Missouri Thorns for leasing the Bluebird Meadow property has been submitted. However, Missouri Thorns officials have inquired about the leasing status of the property and discussed their ideas with Great Rivers Greenway officials, Sorth said.
He said the lease doesn’t come up for renewal until next June and that residents and Dardenne Prairie officials would be consulted before Great Rivers Greenway would make any decision if they receive a formal proposal.
The 62.41-acre tract on the west side of Hwy. Z is zoned agricultural with a 5-acre minimum lot size and would require the permit to allow the soccer fields.