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Prairie Cities Soccer League moves spring and fall seasons to Eastview church fields and reconsiders Sale Barn move

The Prairie Cities Soccer League has signed a 1-year agreement to use soccer fields at  Eastview Christian Church, 1500 Airport Road, Normal.
Michele Steinbacher
/
WGLT
The Prairie Cities Soccer League has signed a 1-year agreement to use soccer fields at Eastview Christian Church, 1500 Airport Road, Normal.

The future home of the Prairie Cities Soccer League once again is up in the air.

When spring season kicks off Saturday, PCSL teams will play on soccer fields at Eastview Christian Church in Normal. That’s where the league has found temporary refuge while it reconsiders whether it can afford to construct a major complex in southwest Bloomington.

The group's longtime presence at Community Fields in Bloomington ended in December. But a plan unveiled last year — to develop fields at the former Sale Barn property across town — is on pause.

"The thing about the Sale Barn site is the original plan was unrealistic, and we need to scale it down," said Mike Matkovich, sporting director for PCSL and FC Central Illinois. The recreational league and competitive club serve nearly 2,000 area youth.

A few months ago, Matkovich took on a leadership role in PCSL's relocation. He and league treasurer Matt Frank are working to see if plans for the site, just off U.S. 51 South, can be revised.

"In the meantime, we needed somewhere to play. So, I went to Eastview, because our competitive club already rents from them," said Matkovich, who joined the organization about two years ago after time leading the Chicago Magic soccer club and coaching with the U.S. national youth team.

“They’ve come forward to help the kids, and we really appreciate that," he said.

For 30 years, Prairie Cities Soccer League teams played at Community Fields, off Ireland Grove Road in Bloomington. The lease for that site expired in December.
Courtesy
For 30 years, Prairie Cities Soccer League teams played at Community Fields, off Ireland Grove Road in Bloomington. The lease for that site expired in December.

Trying to meet the community's needs is part of the church's mission, said Doug Roberts, Eastview sports activities director. “They asked us about available space, and they were somewhat in crisis mode, and luckily we were able to make it work."

“It may even be better than where we were, because we actually have parking now, instead of gravel lots with potholes,” said Matkovich.

New this year for the league: Concessions will be available. Money raised will buy sports equipment Eastview plans to donate during a mission trip to Nairobi, Kenya, said Roberts.

The church, at 1500 Airport Road, has two grass soccer fields, which can handle up to four PCSL matches at a time. Teams ages 9 through high school will play Saturdays and some Tuesday evenings.

To free up space at Eastview fields, and to allow its youngest players to avoid the outside elements, PCSL 5- to 8-year-olds will play indoors at Game Time Gym throughout the week.

30 years at Community Fields comes to a close

A presence in Bloomington-Normal for nearly half a century, PCSL used various locations before a 1992 landing at Community Fields. But the league has spent the last decade scouting a new location — after federal aviation rules nixed the PCSL hub’s proximity to the Central Illinois Regional Airport.

The group's lease was renewed over the years, during failed development initiativesto relocate to Normal. But in December, the final lease expired.

All seemed well though, as the group had leased the old Sale Barn property off U.S. 51 from Shirk Properties, while unveiling an ambitious plan to have grassy fields ready there for this spring's season, and plans to later install turf fields, lighting and more at the 46-acre site.

But what appeared in May to be a done deal has stalled due to financial constraints, said Matkovich.

Drainage, parking add to complex costs

The 1-year agreement with Eastview allows PCSL a space to play for the next two seasons.

"But while that’s going on, we’re still trying to secure fields and put in place turf and lights in for the Sale Barn," said Matkovich. A key factor are costs associated with drainage and parking for the proposed complex.

As this has unfolded, PCSL leaders started to consider one less costly alternative might be expanding its partnership with Eastview.

Roberts said both parties are interested in exploring how that might work, and considering the possibility.

“We’re in the process of trying to figure it out," said Matkovich. "Do we go to Eastview, and make that our long-term home for PCSL? Or are we going to break ground on the Sale Barn and move forward on that project?"

He expects to have the answer for PCSL families and other stakeholders this summer. "We're down to two options. I just ask you to be patient. We’re headed in the right direction about what we can do realistically," he said.

If PCSL can make the Sale Barn site work, that would be great for the league, said Matkovich. “But, we can’t afford a $5 million complex. We need to get it to the point where we can manage the bank loan, and get the complex in," he said.

Matkovich said he'd love to see more community support for PCSL, noting it's one of three biggest organizations of its kind in the state.

"It would be great if we had some people in the community step up with corporate partnership — get involved and help us with that and push us over the line, but we don’t have that," he said.

Michele Steinbacher was a WGLT correspondent, joining the staff in 2020. She left the station in 2024.