FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - The city of Florence celebrated the Thursday grand opening of its new multi-million-dollar Florence Soccer Complex, located near the intersection on Interstate 95 and S.C. 76.
John Cline, with the Florence Soccer Association, said the complex was a long time coming.
"It's incredible. We've been waiting for it. I've been waiting for it for six years; the feeling is surreal," Cline said.
The city broke ground on the $7 million project two years ago. The complex has 14 soccer fields across 90 acres of land.
In addition to the $7 million, officials also announced another $1.5 million that will go toward a pavilion for the soccer complex.
With more than 400 players in the community, the current Esab Soccer Complex located less than two miles away had outgrown its use, Cline said.
"There wasn't enough space for the teams to practice during the week and having games on Saturday morning took a long time cause they were spread out," he said.
Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela was one of the people to speak at the grand opening. He said the project is a great example of what's to come this year for parks and recreation in Florence.
"This is a fine facility and it will serve our young people well and frankly it will generate an enormous (amount) of economic activity in the area as well," Wukela said.
He added the city has dedicated $15 million to parks and recreation around the community. Wukela believes improving the parks means improving the quality of life in Florence.
"When you come out here on the weekend, what you'll find is people running these tracks, people walking dogs, people enjoying the water features," he said.
As for the players hitting the fresh grass fields come Saturday, Cline said the kids will have newfound confidence and for him that's the ultimate goal.
"When they see it they can feel that excitement that everybody has, their parents, other players," Cline said. "They have a sense of pride. They can feel that and then they have a sense of pride. They actually respect everything and everything about the soccer game."
Opening day for the complex will be this Saturday for the first recreation soccer game of the year.