The St. Albert Minor Soccer Association is passing the ball to residents in the capital region to help put the pressure on politicians to build a regional soccer centre.
The not-for-profit organization released an online media and public awareness campaign for the proposed Capital Region Soccer Centre on June 7 featuring video testimonials, concept designs and an online petition.
Once called the Field of Dreams project, the soccer centre is a trilateral project between St. Albert, Edmonton and the province. The soccer association has been working with the two municipalities and the Alberta government to establish a regional soccer centre on a plot of provincially owned land south of St. Albert.
Chris Spaidal, executive director for the association, said although land allocation still needs to be worked out, the project has come to the point where everyone needs to start chipping in.
“There are so many people who are aware of the need for this type of facility, but they need to speak up and let politicians know and let their area reps they are in contact with know and really support the project overall,” he said. “It’s really come to the point where we need to have everybody there so we can really make this project move forward.”
The video prominently features federal Minister of Natural Resources and Edmonton Liberal MP Amarjeet Sohi as well as Edmonton city councillors. No member of St. Albert city council was featured in the video.
Spaidal said having those key figures come onboard to support the facility is a good sign.
The price tag for the new facility is expected to be in the millions, with $60 million being the most common number tossed around. The bill would then be split three ways.
St. Albert city council has yet to decide if they even want to fund the project, although a memorandum of understanding was signed with the soccer association back in May 2017. The project can’t move forward unless it has the city’s support.
In July 2018, the city released a facility prioritization report that saw soccer space top the list of St. Albert's needs.
Spaidal said the soccer association is also looking at the private sector to see if there’s any interest there. He explained landing that kind of partnership would be a win for the project.
“We’re hosting the 2026 World Cup,” Spaidal added. “So this type of facility coming on board at this time would be absolutely massive for the area to make us a key focal point in being a part of that.”
He said having St. Albert on board is going to be key because of the city's involvement in developing the facility, and because St. Albert will most likely be servicing it. As for the province, Spaidal hoped to have an answer on the surplus land by the end of the year.
Coun. Ken MacKay said the city has a large contingent of soccer players and families but the main challenge he sees is how much money is needed for the project.
“It’s going to be challenging,” MacKay said. “I know there’s an existing MOU but a lot of it was contingent on getting co-operation with a number of different levels of government and also funding from those levels. It would be a non-starter if we had to be the sole funder. It’s just something we couldn’t do.”