Edmonton’s south soccer centre is growing to meet demand for indoor facilities.
“I’ve been working on this project for over four years, so it’s very exciting to finally get to this stage, where it’s going to be a reality,” said Adrian Newman, the CEO of the Edmonton Soccer Association.
Construction has already begun and it’s expected to take 18 months to complete, with an expected opening date in October 2022.
“We’re building two new indoor fields that will be used year round, including a turf field for soccer and a concrete field for ball hockey, inline hockey and lacrosse,” said Jason Meliefste, branch manager for infrastructure delivery with the City of Edmonton.
He said that there’s been more demand than capacity for a while, particularly for the concrete space.
“Before the pandemic, ball hockey had waiting lists of over 35 teams and only had one field that they could consistently count on in the city to use.”
And with more than 10,000 soccer players in Edmonton, Newman acknowledged indoor field time has long been coveted, especially for training.
“In the past if you wanted to book a practice, it had to be at about 10:30-10:45 at night and we’ve been known to start on weekends at 6:30, 6 o’clock in the morning,” he explained.
However, the pandemic greatly reduced the demand.
“At the beginning of the season that started in October, the numbers were down by 55 per cent,” Newman said, explaining the drop in field booking is directly tied into a reduction in registration numbers.
That indoor season was cut short by the second lockdown in November.
Newman said the ESA is returning all funds for field time that went unused because of the pandemic.
“We’re offering a full refund for any time that was not used in our facilities.”
Some of that dates back to last indoor season, around this time of year, when provincial competitions and tournaments — including Edmonton’s Heritage Cup/Mini World Cup — were cancelled.
In terms of refunds to players though, Newman said that is determined by each league.
But with spring around the corner, and vaccines going into arms, he said there’s hope this coming outdoor season will be given the green light if the province continues to reduce restrictions.
“The youth are already allowed to practice indoors, but they would like to be able to start playing their games in the middle of May,” Newman said.
As for adult leagues, he expects those to resume after the May long weekend, if rules allow.
“They would expect to be able to run a completely normal program. If it’s delayed, then of course there’ll be some implications. They may have to extend into the summer a bit more,” Newman said.
ESA intends to follow all provincial guidelines to try and make a return to games as safe as possible, he said.
“We have a full cleaning crew that comes in after every game and there’s a buffer between each game.”
At the south soccer centre, one outdoor field will be eliminated to make room for the expansion and creation of additional parking.
“The intent is that the existing fields will remain functional while construction continues,” Meliefste said.
The current building will be connected to the expansion through a middle building.
The total cost of the project is pegged at $30 million.
Over the next 20 years, ESA will repay the city $9.6 million, plus interest, for its portion of the costs.
The province is contributing $500,000 through a grant.