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Guelph city council to vote on the future of its sports dome

The Guelph Sports Dome. Twitter

Guelph city council is set to decide on the future of the sports dome, with staff recommending that the city retains the facility as a municipally-owned asset for community use.

The decision comes after the city ended a lease agreement in 2019 with the Guelph Community Sports.

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When that happened, council directed staff to decide what to with it, but recommendations were delayed until now due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Staff said retaining the sports dome will allow them to expand programming to adults and kids.

“This option best serves the known needs, demands and gaps in municipal recreation service provision across the community,” staff said in the report.

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“The space provided by the sports dome allows for a multitude of indoor year-round sport and recreation opportunities.”

City council also has two other options to consider — staff could look for an organization to run it, and they could either have staff remove the dome or sell it.

However, the reports point out that the marketplace interest is not known, and since the dome sits in the centre of many acres of city-owned land, it would be a bad idea to break up the property.

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Two third-party assessments indicate that the sports dome is in good condition, but the field turf does need to be replaced.

The annual operating cost of the dome is expected to be around $336,000, which should be offset by the additional revenues from the programming and bookings at the facility.

Currently, the dome generates an estimated $88,000 per year, but staff believe they can increase that to $120,000 by expanding hours, and additionally generate up to $156,000 by introducing daytime programming and expanding summer day camps.

The city has already approved $330,000 in capital spending which the report said is required in order to operate the facility now. Additional work has been forecasted to cost $500,000 over 10 years.

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The full life cycle cost of the facility is not known.

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One of the arguments for retaining the sports dome is that Guelph does not have an adequate supply of soccer and multi-use fields.

“Removing assets, like the sports dome, while current demand exceeds the need further exacerbates shortages in the community,” the report stated.

“The facility is the only year-round, municipally-owned amenity that serves the seasonal needs of ‘field’ users. These user groups include soccer, rugby, football, ultimate frisbee, and cricket.”

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The city also gets bookings for drone racing, remote control model flying, lawn bowling, nerf football, tag and golf.

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Councillors will discuss the future of the sports dome during a meeting on June 7.

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