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Dignitaries, football and soccer players and representatives from Blizzard Soccer Club, Calgary Minor Soccer Association and Calgary Amateur Football association gather at Shouldice Field in northwest Calgary on Wednesday, November 13, 2019. Plans for Shouldice Indoor Athletic Facility were announced as a Grey Cup Legacy Project with the City of Calgary as a partner. The inflatabe facility will be available from October to May maximizing the use of the field year round. Jim Wells/Postmedia
An existing turf field at Shouldice in northwest Calgary is shown on Wednesday, November 13, 2019. Plans for Shouldice Indoor Athletic Facility were announced as a Grey Cup Legacy Project with the City of Calgary as a partner. The inflatabe facility will be available from October to May maximizing the use of the field year round. Jim Wells/Postmedia
Finally, young football and soccer players in Calgary are going to have somewhere indoors to practice year-round.
The Calgary Stampeders are going to benefit, too.
On Wednesday afternoon, a collection of community groups and the City of Calgary announced that one of the football fields at Shouldice Athletic Park will be getting an air-supported shelter — a dome, for all intents and purposes — that will provide teams a place to practice and play throughout the long winter.
“It’s something the city really needs. We’re dearly lacking and we just felt like we had to push through all the different obstacles to get it done,” said Greg Peterson, the president of the Greater Calgary Amateur Football Association and one of the driving forces behind the project. “Calgary has brutal, cold winters and if any city needs it, we need it as much as anybody. That fact that we don’t have one is not good for the city and the fact that we’re finally getting one is a great uplift for minor sports and for the Stampeders.”
Funding for the project came from a partnership of five groups: the City of Calgary, the Greater Calgary Amateur Football Association, the Calgary Minor Soccer Association, the Calgary Blizzard Soccer Club and the Calgary Stampeder Football Club.
All together, the “inflatable shelter” is expected to provide 1,850 annual hours of “programmable hours” from October to May every year.
“We’ve had so much private investment in the park, and that’s unusual in terms of, I think, there’s over $8.5 million just in Shouldice Park,” said City of Calgary Councillor Ward Sutherland. “We finished it off and now it’s an opportunity to utilize it all year round. Having this partnership come around, it’s a new model for the city because it’s getting more and more challenging to do these costly things.
“By these groups coming together and now partnering with us, it gives us the financial ability to get this project up and then these groups have the commitment to use it and pay rentals, so the life cycle and the renting is going to happen on a regular basis without it being a drain on the system. It’s a really good new model that we want to use in the future.”
While the sport groups who partnered up for the project will have first priority for booking time at the sheltered facility, it will also be open to other teams, athletes and groups.
For the Stampeders, the facility will allow them to conduct rookie camp inside if weather is bad — which it often is during the early days of training camp — and should allow players who stay in Calgary during the off-season some time to work indoors.
It will also give the Stampeders the opportunity to practice inside during the final couple weeks of the regular season if winter hits in October — like it always does — and into the playoffs.
There was no date provided for when the facility might open.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019