No U.S. squad in the World Cup? No problem for the Corvallis Sports Park, where the event is still a holiday for soccer fans.
The next month has big happenings at the facility, which includes an indoor soccer field and has become something akin to the mid-Willamette Valley’s soccer mecca, with patrons coming from throughout Linn and Benton counties and as far away as Newport, Eugene and Salem.
The World Cup coincides with the 20th anniversary of the business, which is holding a celebration all day June 30 to celebrate its birthday and hold a reopening for the Upper Deck sports pub.
The newly improved Upper Deck also is opening early for lunch on select weekdays and for breakfast on the weekends so residents can watch the planet’s most popular sporting event.
With the move of Murphy’s Restaurant & Lounge to downtown, the Corvallis Sports Park is trying to offer more to underserved south Corvallis residents than just soccer, said Blake Leamy, one of five owners of the business.
“We want to become a destination for those folks,” added Leamy, the girls soccer coach and formerly the boys soccer coach for Crescent Valley High School.
Appealing to “Southtown” was the motivation behind adding Mr. Bill’s Traveling Trivia Show on Friday nights and was part of the inspiration for the Upper Deck renovations.
The pub now includes a full kitchen, so customers have a wider selection of menu choices and can order healthier meals. The business also has hired a chef and will add a meat smoker for the reopening and afterward.
“We used to call it a glorified concession stand,” Leamy said.
Patron Jason Howell said the changes were great. “You can eat a meal here,” he added. When his children would come to his league games in the past, the best option for them was French fries.
The pub also increased to 32 taps, up from 20, and that includes beer, cider, cold brew coffee and kombucha. More taps may be added soon.
The Upper Deck also added a 2,000-square foot balcony outside last July, and Leamy said an outdoor television will soon be installed.
Players in leagues often visit the Upper Deck after games to sip a brew, chat with teammates and watch other games from a balcony overlooking the field.
About 20 people watched Spain tie Portugal 3-3 in the Upper Deck on Friday.
Married couple Trevor and Aurora Tivey of Corvallis said they’ll likely watch most World Cup games at the business.
“It’s nice to watch with other people, and you can’t do that in a lot of places in town,” said Trevor Tivey, who plays on indoor soccer teams at the park.
He’s hoping for as many upsets as possible in the tournament, and also for England to do well, since his dad is from there.
Since the United States isn’t playing, Aurora Tivey will be rooting for Iceland. With about 335,000 people, it’s the nation with the smallest population to ever make the World Cup.
“They’re super underdogs,” said the Tiveys’ friend Brian Tanis. “It’s pretty amazing they actually got to the tournament.”
With numerous international residents in Corvallis, the Corvallis Sports Park has an international flair, whether that’s in a recreational league or watching the World Cup.
When the Corvallis Sports Park started 20 years ago, it offered a space for both roller hockey and indoor soccer. However, the business opted to go with turf that mimicked grass better in its eighth year, which eliminated roller hockey as an option.
Other major changes at the facility have been the addition of a youth program in its fifth year and the addition of the Upper Deck pub in year three.
Howell, who played soccer at Corvallis High School, said the park has improved the quality of play and the soccer culture of the mid-valley.
“It’s big,” agreed Aresh Toumadje, who played on CV’s 1996 state championship squad, coached by Leamy.
“It keeps adults invested in the game and they do a lot of youth programs, giving kids more chances to play soccer, especially in the winter,” Howell added.
The Corvallis Sports Park’s 20th anniversary and Upper Deck reopening will include the Heartland Humane Society, which will have dogs present in the morning. Dog-named beers will be featured on the menu. A portion of drink sales will also go to Heartland.
For more information on the Corvallis Sports Park and its World Cup schedule, go to the business’ Facebook page.