Soccer Northwest plans alternative turf sports facility.
Soccer Northwest Ontario (SNO) is taking another kick at a proposed indoor turf sports facility.
The organization has developed a new proposal, which would see a hangar-type facility built alongside the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium and Canada Games complex.
SNO President Michael Wenzel said the group looked at previous attempts to build a sports turf facility, and tried to address sticking points in the new plan.
The city council has voted in favor of a turf sports facility, and has even chosen a site at Chapels Park.
However, in July, councilors voted to block the project from going ahead, essentially handing over any further decisions to the new council, whose members will be formally sworn in later this month. Will pick up.
As for the facility, Wenziel said SNO’s design as proposed is coming in at less than $20 million, about half of the current city proposal.
“The facility itself, the biggest difference is the layout of the fields,” Wenziel said. “We’ve seen, obviously, the width of the building is the most expensive part.”
“So we decided to change the layout of the field ourselves,” he said. “The sizes of the fields themselves are actually slightly larger than what was previously provided by the city, but a more rectangular shape for the building is what would be the most cost-effective.”
Wenziel said the building would include a large turf field that could be divided into smaller fields. It will also have seating, office and storage space, a pro shop, washrooms and changing rooms, a party room and overhead doors so it can also be used to host trade shows.
In addition, the building will be constructed on the site currently occupied by a baseball field on the north end of the city. Wenziel said the building will not occupy the entire lot, so about 200 more parking spaces could be created.
“We’ve heard a very positive response,” he said of the proposal. “We’ve had letters of support not only from consumer groups, but also from many outside organizations.”
Wenziel said he tried to address issues previously raised with proposals for a turf facility “such as overall cost and location.”
The need for such a facility has been debated for years. Veneziel has repeatedly spoken about the lack of space for indoor sports, such as soccer, during the winter months.
SNO has scheduled booking times for the Lakehead University hangar as it becomes available. But students have priority there, so hours are limited.
Indoor soccer leagues also use a rink at the Thunder Bay Tournament Center.
However, Wenziel said, there isn’t enough space to accommodate everyone.
“I believe we’ve turned away about 2,000 people, just with the football community alone,” he said. “For example, there’s a team in the women’s league that only plays once in the entire month of December.”
“Sometimes there’s only two games a month,” Wenzel said. “We’re trying to make it available to as many people as possible, but to do that we have to drastically reduce the amount of games and playing times.”
“So, for example, some leagues … instead of their normal 22-game season, they have 10 games throughout the season.”
The SNO will present the plan to the council in a deputation on December 12.
When asked about the proposal, Mayor-elect Ken Bushkoff said he sees merit in the idea.
“I’m very much in favor of youth being able to play affordable sports,” Bushkov said. “I’m very supportive of facilities that … come in under $20 million, and I believe that having them where they have adequate parking and a central facility with bus service means we can make it accessible to everyone. making it accessible to.”
Current River Councilor-elect Andrew Folds also favors the turf facility, noting that the city has already earmarked about $17 million for the project.
“Certainly one of the things I heard during the campaign was people who were absolutely against it,” he said. “I definitely heard a body of people who were absolutely for it.”
“But I actually heard from a good number of people who were in favor of it, but thought that maybe whatever was going to be made should be a little bit more modest.”
Folds said he’s optimistic that SNO’s plan is “the compromise that everyone’s been looking for.”
City Report in January
Meanwhile, the city administration is still working on its plan and recommendations for a turf sports facility.
City Manager Norm Gale said it is scheduled to be presented to councilors in January.
“This report will contain recommendations and other information, and we will proceed accordingly when council makes that decision, regardless of any deputation made by Soccer Northwest Ontario, or any other stakeholders’ views.” , which we will definitely consider going forward.”
No details of the management report are available yet.
“The most important thing to remember is that the council can do what the council wants to do,” Gale said. “They can only fund stakeholder facilitation if they choose to do so.”
“So the range is wide open,” he said. “It depends on what the council wants to do, which is why the report in January is so important, and why decisions are being made and direction is being provided by the council.”
“And today it’s too early for me to speculate what that might be.”