Leaders: Tax exemption will keep Pawtucket Youth Soccer affordable

Leaders: Tax exemption will keep Pawtucket Youth Soccer affordable

Members of the Pawtucket Youth Soccer Association Board of Directors are, from left, Kim English, Maria DeCastro, Cristina Silva, Philip Tomlinson, and Dave Alves. The group gathered in their new indoor soccer facility on Plain Street. (Valley Breeze photos by Ethan Shorey)

PAWTUCKET - A tax exemption approved by the City Council last week saves the Pawtucket Youth Soccer Association big money each year and makes the group sustainable for the long haul, say board members for the organization.

PYSA President Philip Tomlinson and other members of the board said not too many soccer organizations own a building, especially a structure like the one opened in February by the PYSA at 52 Plain St. Not having to pay the $10,582 in taxes on the property with an assessed value of $342,700 will allow the group to sustain the league itself and keep fees down, said Tomlinson.

"It's a big break for us," he said.

No longer will the PYSA have to use gyms at city schools or rent other facilities for indoor soccer programs, said Tomlinson, as the new facility and its new $40,000 turf field will serve all of those needs.

The purchase of the formerly vacant 8,000-square-foot facility on Plain Street also gives the PYSA a home base for all sign-up sessions and other activities that were once held wherever league officials could find a spot, from the concession stand at the league's soccer fields to school cafeterias. Getting activities out of the schools will benefit the schools as well, say league officials.

After purchasing the Plain Street building for $315,000 last fall, league leaders now feel like "we're paying ourselves," said Tomlinson, instead of paying others just to adequately function. Not having to pay taxes on the facility, as well as having access to the city-owned McKinnon-Alves Soccer Complex, allows the PYSA to operate without having to worry about big extra expenses, he said.

Unlike national soccer associations that divide profits between leagues, whatever money the PYSA brings in comes back to the league, said board member Cristina Silva. That's a big motivator for businesses and individuals who donate to the league, she said.

The PYSA continues to serve more than 800 soccer players during its spring season, said board members, and that number grows to more than 1,000 for the fall season. League officials don't foresee a decline in the popularity of the league, especially during a World Cup year.

City Councilor Albert Vitali hailed the PYSA as a "valuable, valuable" piece of the city's fabric, an organization that keeps hundreds of children in the community active and out of trouble.

Councilor Terry Mercer also likes the league and its acquisition of the property, but noted his concerns about traffic and parking in what is largely a residential neighborhood. He asked members of the league to be cognizant of their surroundings as they go about their business.

First founded in 1977, the PYSA remains one of the most well run youth soccer organizations around, said City Council members, and well deserving of a tax exemption. About 80 percent of the league's members come from Pawtucket, said league leaders.

The building on Plain Street, open Monday to Friday from 5 to 9 p.m., is already getting extensive use, according to board members.

The planning and fundraising for the new indoor soccer center goes back several years, according to Tomlinson and PYSA Vice President Dave Alves, with a significant portion of the money coming from bonds and CDs that were started before they came on board.

According to Tomlinson and board members, the PYSA is always looking for sponsors, but that's especially true now with a new building. Under the right deal, they would even be willing to give up naming rights for their new building if it means additional revenue for the league, said Tomlinson.

The PYSA is known for being resourceful with the money it receives, said board members. Two large murals on the side walls of the new facility were painted for free by artist Hilary Carlson of the Rhode Island School of Design.

For more on the Pawtucket Youth Soccer Association, visit www.pawtucketsoccer.org .

The outside of the new Pawtucket Youth Soccer Association building at 52 Plain St.