Telegraph Journal Jan 24 2017 / by Bill MacMackin

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Field house project fundraising closer to goal line with $35,000 Soccer New Brunswick donation

Sarah Seeley Telegraph-Journal

Kevin Topolniksi, the president of Soccer New Brunswick, left, presents a $35,000 cheque to Patti Forgeron, a volunteer with the Greater Saint John Field House project committee. The committee is $1.5 million away from its community fundraising goal of $12 million. Photo: Submitted

SAINT JOHN • The Greater Saint John Field House project is $35,000 closer to reaching its goal for community fundraising.

Soccer New Brunswick recently donated the sum to the project. Bill MacMackin, the board chairman of the field house project, said the soccer association’s donation brings the total community fundraising to $10.6 million, which is $1.5 million shy of their goal.

“We’re getting closer,” he said.

MacMackin said he was happy to have Soccer New Brunswick on board with the field house project.

“Soccer New Brunswick is one of the biggest sports federations in the province and probably one of the largest identified potential users of the facility,” he said.

“Just to have them as a provincial sport governing body willing to support us is really positive. It’s really a great sign and a great show of their confidence in the project.”

Phase one of the facility, with an estimated cost of $24 million, will feature two turf pitches for field sports, a running track, a community centre and daycare, and a multi-purpose space for the community to use. It will also include numerous site improvements for the Exhibition Park property.

Younes Bouida, the executive director of Soccer New Brunswick, said the $35,000 contribution came through the organization’s GOAL program, which is a new program created last year to contribute to initiatives in the provincial soccer community.

“We need winter soccer and people are looking for fine turf fields to play in the wintertime, so I think it’s a great investment and a great project to promote the activity during the winter and getting the kids having fun and playing their favourite sport.”

Bouida said there is a great need for an indoor soccer field in Saint John and it will give soccer players a chance to practice when there is snow on the ground.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to promote active and healthy living and I think it’s going to be used by different age groups.”

The field house will help Saint John soccer players who are aiming to play at the collegiate or professional level, said MacMackin.

“It makes it a year-round sport for the soccer community and for those athletes that are at a high performance level, it gives them the ability to develop their skills further,” he said.

“It would give us a chance to cultivate those athletes if they’re looking for an opportunity to hone their skills and get better. Facilities are an important part along with coaching to make sure those athletes develop properly.”

The construction of the field house will contribute to an influx of provincial soccer training and tournaments to Saint John. Bouida said one provincial event could bring as many as 200 players to the city as well as their families.

“They come with their parents, so you are looking at 600 people coming in one weekend for the training.”

The facility will also be used for other sports in the winter months, such as football or Ultimate Frisbee. MacMakin said there are 12-14 different provincial and national sporting events that could be brought to Saint John once the field house is built.

MacMakin said the committee is waiting for the confirmation of federal and provincial funding, but he said he is hoping to start the construction by the end of the year.

“We’d like to get across the goal line with our community fundraising over the remainder of the year as well.”

Plans for phase two of the project, with an estimated cost of $16 million, includes a sports arena with two ice pads. These facilities will support ice-related programs and sports and offer additional community-based space for multi-use events and gatherings.

''Just to have them as a provincial sport governing body willing to support us is really positive. It’s really a great sign and a great show of their confidence in the project.
Bill MacMackin