Lights installed at Pelican complex; ceremonial ‘flip of the switch’ during special soccer night Aug. 7

Major league soccer facilities—at little league prices. 

The addition of lights at the Pelican Rapids High School soccer fields was completed last week—and the switch will be flipped Sunday, August 7. 

A spectator grandstand, smaller bleacher sections, and now lights for night games will be introduced during a special evening of soccer, with two league title games, starting at 6 p.m. Sunday. The enhancements for the fastest-growing sport in the region were completed at a fraction of the cost, following the acquisition of the fixtures from a former equestrian facility.

The stadium lights will shine at about 8:00 p.m., when alumni from the earliest days of organized Pelican soccer take the field for an abbreviated “friendly” game. 

Among those early players, dating to 1999, is Rudy Martinez, who, along with a committee of Pelican Rapids United Soccer Association boosters, is organizing the event. 

The finale will be the adult league championship game, with a tentative start time of 9:15 p.m. Competing for the title: the Pelican-based Warriors and the Fargo-Moorhead OC Stars. 

Special guests will be David Brown, for whom the field is named, and his wife Nadine Brown, who will be an announcer for the ceremony. Retired Pelican educator Brown was instrumental in establishing soccer in Pelican—which within a quarter-century, has become a regional center for the sport. 

Soccer enthusiasts and the school were opportunistic when the former Red Horse Area, rural Fergus Falls, began divesting assets—including seating and lights. 

Through a collaboration, which included PRUSA, the school, and the city, Pelican last year secured the large grandstand, plus smaller bleacher sections. The lights were also acquired with the package, but remained in storage until funds could be raised. 

This entire round of improvements cost about $125,000, according to Martinez, who, along with serving as an officer with the soccer association, is Pelican school’s finance director. The soccer association alone generated nearly $100,000 toward the improvements, which are school-owned. The Brown field parcel was donated, by the city, to the school district. 

Based on a quote from several years ago, noted Martinez, these improvements would likely have cost upwards of $780,000—no doubt more, with the recent inflation spiral. 

The final installation was scheduled for August 4, with Otter Tail Power adding a transformer with enough capacity for the lights. 

The addition of lights will be a big step for the Pelican school’s soccer program. 

For the fall season, noted Martinez, most home games will be “under the lights,” with junior varsity start times expected to be 5 p.m.; and varsity at 7 p.m.