An item for an agreement between the Town and the Vermont Voltage Soccer Team for games that would be played at Applejack Field appeared as an agenda item for this Tuesday's Select Board meeting. However, the select board announced at the meeting that an agreement had not yet been reached.
Manchester Town Manager John O'Keefe could not comment on the details of the negotiations, but confirmed that they were ongoing.
"I'm hopeful of finding an agreement that would make sense from a financial perspective," said O'Keefe who played soccer in both college and in Europe. "It would be a good addition culturally and from an economic development standpoint. My opinion is that Applejack Field and the park house would be an excellent venue for the Voltage."
The park house, which is currently under construction and expected to open in February, is the reason it would be possible for the Voltage to play games at Applejack Field, according to the team's General Manager, Bo Vuckovic. There are certain requirements that must be provided to visiting fans and referees in order for the Voltage to play league games at Applejack Field - requirements that were not met by the former pool house, which was destroyed last month. In order for the Voltage to use the field, basic facilities, such as bathrooms and locker rooms - facilities that will be a part of the new park
Voters approved a $1.5 million bond at Town Meeting last March for the replacement of the existing pool house, fencing, the septic system, installation of a new well and other improvements, according to previous reports.
Vuckovic said that the team had a history with the town as they have been playing an annual game at Applejack Field for the past five or six years over Fourth of July weekend. It was the relationship that they built with the town and the community, as well as a recent development, that caused the Voltage to enter into discussions with the town about the possibility of playing regular season games at Applejack Field.
"Recently we acquired a property in Bennington, the former Catamount School, which we're now converting into the Bennington Sports Center. We're going to have a year round indoor soccer facility," said Vuckovic. "I believe it will be a great partnership between the town and the Voltage to play some of our games there."
The finalization of an agreement between the team and the town has been delayed, Vuckovic said, because they are working on the Bennington Sports Center for its Grand Opening, which is scheduled for Oct. 28. If a deal is reached, the Voltage would play up to five of their regular season games - of which there are 14 to 16 - at Applejack Field.
Though an agreement may not currently be in place, Vuckovic said one would have to be finalized before late February when the schedules for the regular season are completed.
Currently the team is based in St. Albans and was founded in 1997. The team plays in the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League.