Vancouver pitches site to Timbers for futsal court

By Katy Sword, Columbian staff writer

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Vancouver has selected a site to offer the Portland Timbers as home for a new futsal court: what’s known to locals as the old tennis court, behind the old library.

The site is used for storage by the Fort Vancouver Regional Library, a far cry from its past as a tennis court. Tennis was last played on site more than 20 years ago, said Julie Hannon, the city’s Parks and Recreation director.

“I think there were a lot of amenities in place that make us a desirable location,” said city Councilor Bart Hansen, who’s been an advocate of the project since its July announcement.

Hannon and Hansen were joined Monday by Timbers representative Jack Jewsbury and Greg McGreevey of Pacific FC to tour the proposed futsal site. Futsal is a variation of soccer, typically played on an indoor court with a smaller ball and two teams of five players each.

Despite pouring rain throughout the tour, Hansen said he’s optimistic about Vancouver’s chances. The site has nearby parking, public transportation, freeway access and schools — all perks the Timbers value.

“Our goal is to identify spaces for play in ‘recreational deserts,’ that will be close to a recreational center, school, or nonprofit organization with public access where kids have a sustainable outlet of play with local programming at the site,” said Kristel Wissel, vice president of Timbers community relations.

The Timbers plan to invest about $100,000 in the new court, the 13th of its kind in the Vancouver-Portland metro area thanks to their program known as Fields for All.

Wissel declined to clarify when a final decision will be made, and Vancouver is up against at least one other unknown city. Hannon said the city expects a decision in the next two or three weeks. Once a decision is made and construction begins, the court only takes six weeks to complete.

The Timbers want to partner with a city that can promise a swift process for the community project. Hansen is again optimistic.

“When it comes to going through any public process, we need to reduce the amount of red tape anybody needs to go through,” he said. “Which is one of the reasons I become involved in this project. I want to make sure it becomes smooth and seamless for anyone that wants to contribute to this community.”

The futsal court is especially important to Hansen, who can summarize his view in three words.

“Underprivileged youth. Period.”

The actual process for using the futsal park is just a vision at this point, but Hansen said he pictures something resembling the city’s picnic space rental site. The court would be open to anyone to reserve, and ideally, without cost.

Still, Hansen isn’t worried. The Timbers are planning to build another futsal court next year.