BuildSoccer, a nonprofit dedicated to improving youth sports facilities in Austin, announced June 24 it had signed a long-term lease on the property of the Marbridge Foundation in South Austin, with plans to develop a six-field soccer park complex. Marbridge, a residential community for adults with cognitive disabilities located at the intersection of Brodie Lane and FM 1626, sits on 200 acres of land, approximately 20 of which will be occupied by the soccer park.

“[The partnership] exposes our greater community to the Marbridge mission,” said Becca McPherson, vice president of development for the Marbridge Foundation.

While a portion of Marbridge’s acreage has been leased to groups such as BuildSoccer for recreational use in order to support Marbridge’s funding in the past, the development is a first for the facility.

Marbridge’s partnership with BuildSoccer fits in with a “grand strategic plan” that Marbridge has developed in order to use its resources and foster more connections with the community, according to McPherson. She said the park would create opportunities for Marbridge residents as well as soccer-playing youth, allowing them to train to work field maintenance, landscaping and concessions.

In the future, Marbridge residents will also have the chance to form a Marbridge Foundation Special Olympics soccer team, McPherson said. Marbridge and BuildSoccer also plan to host a chapter of The Outreach Program for Soccer, which serves special-needs youth.

“We definitely want it to be a good, synergistic relationship,” BuildSoccer President Christie Ciccarello said, adding she had the idea to partner with Marbridge after her own children played at a San Antonio soccer complex built by an organization that served that city’s special-needs community.

Ciccarello also said she was motivated by the lack of lighted soccer parks in the Austin area, causing families like hers to spend extended hours in the car going to and from games and practices.

BuildSoccer also announced it was seeking funding, inviting the public to make contributions toward the $5 million project. Ciccarello said the organization is especially seeking a large donor interested in acquiring naming rights for the complex. Existing donors include Major League Soccer team Austin FC’s philanthropic arm 4ATX Foundation, which contributed $10,000. Austin’s second division team, Austin Bold FC, is also supporting the project by donating a portion of its ticket sales from its July 27 game to BuildSoccer.

Work on the soccer park will take around two and a half years to complete once initial fundraising allows work to commence, Ciccarello said.