Alabama All Star Soccer Game Played in Montgomery's Upgraded Complex

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By Tamika Bickham

Alabama All Star Sports week is underway and the athletes are using some upgraded facilities. The first ever soccer games were played Tuesday night at the newly renovated Emory Folmar YMCA Soccer Complex.

Paul Hankins says six years in the making and close to $3 million invested from both public and private money, has resulted in this.

"I think the thrill that these young men and women will have playing on a field like this, in a stadium like this, is something that they will remember forever," said Hankins, Metro YMCA Board Member.

There are concessions, a press box, two 2,000 seat stadiums, 10 lighted fields, and professional style goals. It's a far cry from how the all-star soccer games were played this time last year.

"On the side you would have a couple three row bleachers set up. It just didn't give the appearance of honoring kids that are a part of a championship program," said Ken Blankenship, the Executive Director of the Central Alabama Sports Commission.

Family and friends who came to cheer on the all stars and capture memories, say they've taken notice of all the major upgrades.

"We can see the improvements that they've made. It's really nice. The fields are really nice. The stands, the stadium, they weren't here the last time," said Bobby Charley, who's daughter was playing on the North team.

While the all star games are contracted to remain in Montgomery for the next three years, Blankenship says it's improvements like this that will keep them here and attract other big time events.

"We have the NAIA National Championship here in November. We have the Southern States Conference Championship here in November. Neither one of those would have even considered Montgomery had it not been for this facility," said Blankenship.

The renovations to the soccer complex are expected to be completed by the end of the summer.

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