Council reaffirms support for field house - Telegraph Journal Nov 15, 2016 by Bill MacMackin

Council reaffirms support for field house

SaraH PeTz Telegraph-Journal

   SAINT JOHN • Common Council confirmed its support for the $24 million Greater Saint John Field House project Monday night, the same night it endorsed a plan to get the region’s municipalities to work together to improve recreational facilities.

 Coun. Gary Sullivan put forward a motion to this effect, noting that while previous councils has expressed support for the project, the current council should also make its commitment known in order to plan for the expenditure.

   He said he brought it forward so that council’s position would be clear to the community.

   The project is one of three on city’s list of contingent capital projects that it may have to fund in 2017 if they were to move forward.

   If the Exhibition Field House project were to proceed, the city would be on the hook for $1.4 million in 2017, part of a three-year commitment totalling $4.2 million.

   The other potential projects are the Fundy Quay development, which could cost the city $4.1 million in 2017, and Loyalist Plaza project, with an anticipated city contribution of $3.4 million.

   Both Deputy Mayor Shirley Mc-Alary and Coun. David Merrithew voted against Sullivan’s motion.   McAlary argued that she didn’t understand why council should single out the field house over other projects, noting that council hasn’t had the chance to see in-depth plans for any of them.    “To me, I don’t want the public to be misled that we’re singling out the field house over any other project.    Merrithew, who serves as chairman of the city’s finance committee, also argued that council needs to see business plan for the project before moving ahead with supporting it.


   “There has to be a business case for each of these projects. We haven’t seen that,”he said, stressing, as he has many times in the past, that the city and council needs to watch its long-term debt.   “It is at a stage where it’s impeding your budget to the tune of $16 million in your operating budget,” he said, referring to the amount it costs the city to service its debt each year.

   Last week, Mayor Don Darling said he wanted more details on how the Exhibition Field House fits into council’s priorities before the city moves forward with funding the project, adding that he felt the field house should be a regional facility.    On Monday, Darling said that while he was supportive of the concept, he’d like to see council and city complete its due diligence.

  The motion was approved the same night councillors endorsed a regional recreation plan that would see greater collaboration between communities and possible cost sharing when planning any future facilities in the Greater Saint John region.

   The plan was spearheaded by the Fundy Regional Service Commission. The commission will vote on whether or not to move forward with it on Dec. 14.

   A report on the plan names the Exhibition Field House project as an example of a regional opportunity for recreation. It argues that the proponent of the facility, City of Saint John, and other communities should explore how it could be leveraged for the benefit of each community in the region.


   “Doing so would not halt the planning and development process – it would enhance the project, its benefits and its business plan,” the report says.

   “The incentive for the proponent is that its operational business case is strengthened.”   A city staff report on the plan notes that 35 per cent of the users of Saint John’s recreational facilities come from outside the city.

   “As a result, the plan recognizes the Saint John bears a disproportionately greater burden of funding recreation facilities through City taxpayer subsidization,” the report says.

Saint John Common Council met on Monday night. Photo: SaRah Petz/telegRaPh-JouRnal


Telegraph Journal - Editorial Nov 11, 2016 - Thank your for the support! by Bill MacMackin

Field house plans

Welcome help, but stay the course

   As it finalizes its capital budget plan, Common Council should stay the course on the proposed field house, but welcome regional partnerships – and use its political influence to facilitate a genuine regional approach.

   Even as the field house project for the city’s east side is earning increasing community support through its capital campaign, council appears to be having second thoughts on the idea, potentially delaying capital spending on the project unless the suburban municipalities get onboard. While we sympathize with a desire for regional co-operation – and believe that one robust field house on the city’s east side would be better than two competing field houses in Saint John and in Rothesay – we feel that council’s latest position ignores the project’s progress to date. The field house concept is much stronger and more community driven than before, and will give the Saint John region a significant recreation asset without adding operating costs to city hall. As such, the project merits full consideration now, even if it would be a much better project if the suburbs took the leap as well.

   This is where the mayor and council should show political leadership – if they truly feel the field house needs suburban support, they should lobby the regional municipalities to include modest capital contributions to the project in their own capital spending plans. Everyone supports the idea of regional co-operation on paper, and the field house concept represents an opportunity to show it with actual regional leadership.

CIBC supports the Greater Saint John Field House Project with a $30,000 donation. by Bill MacMackin

CIBC supports the Greater Saint John Field House Project with a $30,000 donation.


The Greater Saint John Field House Project, was busy over the summer with continued fundraising for the sports complex. They are very pleased to announce that CIBC has come forward with a generous contribution of $30,000 towards the construction.


The plan for this project requires that half of the $24 Million required, be generated from the community and City funding with provincial funding, and federal funding making up the other half. This latest show of support brings the total City and community commitment to $10.3 million.   


“CIBC is pleased to support the Saint John community with this important project,” said Ian Penny, Vice President and Region Head, Atlantic, Commercial Banking. “We care about the communities where we live and work, and Field House will play an important role in making our communities stronger right across the region.”


“This latest donation is another example of our community’s desire to support the development of this field house facility,” says MacMackin. Campaign volunteer, Styve Dumouchel also noted, “CIBC saw the large community commitments behind the project and what it brings to Saint John for sports, recreation, and wellness. We are proud to add them to our donor list and this is another win for the project and the Greater Saint John community.”


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

Field House & YMCA Strike Operating Partnership by Bill MacMackin

Greater Saint John Field House partners with the

YMCA of Greater Saint John


Saint John, NB -  The Greater Saint John Field House (the Field House) and the YMCA of Greater Saint John (the Y) have announced a new partnership to better meet the recreation, sport and fitness needs of the community. By working together, the two groups say they will significantly advance their mutual goal of enhancing the health and wellness of individuals and families in Greater Saint John.

Actively working to finalize a successful fundraising campaign and break ground in 2016, the Field House Board of Directors is projecting that the doors of their state-of-the-art recreation facility will open late in 2018. With a schedule falling into place, the group has been assessing options for the operations and management of the facility, leading to discussions with the Y. Today both parties are delighted to announce the successful outcome of those discussions – a May 13th memorandum of understanding to pursue a long-term operating partnership that would see the Y manage the Field House and develop community programming to take maximum advantage of the facility.

Launched with a vision of a self-sustaining facility for people of all ages and abilities the Field House project is intended to make Greater Saint John a leader in sport, recreation and wellness. Leadership of both organizations suggest that these objectives pair so well with the Y’s vision of creating a thriving inclusive culture that champions well-being in people and communities, that working together clearly advances the intent of both.

The Y has tremendous experience in facility management and can offer the support and expertise that will help ensure a well-run, high quality facility and the kind of programming that the community wants and needs at the new Field House. Partnering at this stage of the process and bringing their expertise to the table will help to ensure that the new facility will be developed to address the community’s needs and complement the existing programs and services of the Y.

“As the board evaluated potential management models for the new Field House, the Y stood out as a leader in recreational programming. They are the logical partner for this project,” said Bill MacMackin, President of the Field House Board of Directors. “It allows them to expand their reach and programming into a new area of the city and gives us access to a team with vital operations experience. We see this as a clear win for both groups.”

“The Y is honoured to be asked to operate the new Field House,” said Shilo Boucher, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Saint John. “This is not only a tremendous new regional asset, it will also significantly complement the Y’s current programs. The Greater Saint John Field House will contribute substantially to our mission of inspiring everyone to be healthy in spirit, mind and body.” 




About the Greater Saint John Field House

The Greater Saint John Field House project was launched to build a first class facility that meets the needs of field sport users and provide a variety of recreational, leisure and cultural programs that improve the quality of life for the entire community. The Field House is intended to facilitate community building and social interaction, provide accessible programming and improve the overall health and wellness of the community.


About the YMCA of Greater Saint John

The YMCA of Greater Saint John is a trusted community charity dedicated to delivering lasting personal and social change.  We are committed to nurturing the potential of children, youth and families, promoting healthy living and fostering social responsibility within the community. Across 13 locations throughout Greater Saint John, we serve more than 35,000 people. Our focus on inclusiveness and accessibility means we serve people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities through all stages of life. Through the Y Strong Kids Opportunity Fund, the Y is accessible to all.


Media Contacts:


Bill MacMackin


Greater Saint John Field House Inc.

Phone: 506-647-4931


Cindy Floyd, CFRE

VP, Philanthropy and Communication

YMCA of Greater Saint John

Phone: 634-4927

Fundraising Campaign Reaches Key Milestone by Bill MacMackin

Community Fundraising reaches $800,000 and $10 Million in committed funds for project.

The Field House Project, which kicked off its community fundraising campaign this past summer, is pleased to announce that thanks to a number of generous individuals, companies and organizations they have raised $800,000 of the $3.0 Million goal. A number of well-known names are among the donors and included in this total are donations from some who wish to remain anonymous or will be revealed at a later date. The project is supported by the Saint John Exhibition Park Association and the City of Saint John, who combined are putting in over $9.2 Million. With the funds announced today, the project has reached $10 Million of committed funding for the $24 million project.

Campaign chairman, Bill MacMackin says, “The fundraising for the Field House Project has reached an important milestone this Christmas, once again showing Saint John’s ability to give. It shows that the people are getting behind this project to ensure it is a success.”  The community campaign, Exhibition Association support and city funding will provide half funding required for the project. Applications have been made to the federal and provincial governments for the balance.

$286,000 was announced - Donors below contributed between $5000-50,000

       Dr. Patti Forgeron

       Bob & Kelly Manning

       Tabufile - Dale & Wendy Knox

       Dr. Andrea Garland

       Teed Saunders Doyle

       Brenans Funeral Home

       Best Western Hotel Saint John

       Service Master – Chris Long

       Brett Auto Group

       Fundy Soccer

       Exhibition & McAllister Drive Plaza Properties

       Murdock Boyd Architects

$515,000 was also announced tied to the naming of the running/walking track

A group of donors from the track & field community have also come together on a combined basis to donate over $500,000 to the development of the track within the complex. This group has made this contribution with the desire to dedicate running / walking track in the building in memory of the Late Walter Ellis who founded the Saint John Track Club, is an inductee into the Saint John and NB Sports Halls of Fame and who was coach to many who continue to give back to our sport.  Some of the donors behind this gift are listed below:

Dave Nowlan

Styve Dumouchel & Family

Kevin / Bob & Joan Hooper & Family

Bill MacMackin & Family

Rorri Currie

Peter King

Daryl & Ellen Steeves

Kristin Sweet

Murray Family - In memory of Peter Murray

Alex Coffin

Gina & Earl Burrows

Dr. Erik Klein - The Town Chiropractor

SJ Track Club Membership

Terry Lee, Dennis & Erin Vringer

Sport Clubs and Discover Saint John Team up to secure events for field house! by Bill MacMackin


Greater Saint John Field House

Sport Clubs and Discover Saint John Team up to secure events for field house!

Local sports groups and Discover Saint John have teamed up to bid for events to host in the new Greater Saint John Field House once built. The facility which will feature artificial turf fields and the only national quality indoor track & field venue in Atlantic Canada will be a prime location for national and regional events.

The sporting community is starting now to market the facility and attract events so there will be a strong economic impact from the complex when it opens. Along with Discover Saint John, the partners in this project include the Saint John Track & Field Club as well as various soccer, gymnastics and martial arts groups. Other sport partners will be added to this team as potential sporting events are identified.

The event hosting strategy will seek out and bid on events over the coming year that are suited for this facility. Bill MacMackin, Project leader for the field house project states, “By sport clubs and Discover Saint John launching this strategy now Saint John can ensure a strong start to event hosting for this facility when built.”  In fact, the plan is already working!

Jason Reindl, coach with the Saint John Track & Field Club & Athletics N.B. has said, “We are very excited to announce that the Canadian Masters Athletics Association has awarded provisional hosting of their national indoor championships to Saint John at the new facility for 2019 & 2020. It shows the economic impact this facility can have through sporting events.”

This masters’ event, which usually attracts over 250 master’s athletes, is conditional on construction being confirmed in 2017 and the facility being available open for use by the end of 2018.  “Saint John has had an outstanding record of hosting the master’s event for track having hosted our outdoor championships in 2007 and a very successful North American Championships in 2012. We are very excited to support this project and a return to Saint John for our indoor championships,” said Canadian Masters President, Paul Osland. 

From a track point of view, the bidding will not stop there. The club has intentions to pursue the Canadian University Indoor Track Champs (CIS) along with UNB, the Canadian Indoor Open Championships which open for bid this year as well as numerous Atlantic regional events.

Work is also started with local and provincial soccer groups to ensure the new facility secures its share of regional and provincial events. Jim Burns of Southern NB soccer and a board member for Soccer NB stated, “A permanent facility such as this can be configured to attract a number of larger regional soccer events drawing from all over Atlantic Canada. We are working now to identify events so that this facility stays as busy as possible.”

“Sports tourism creates significant economic impact in Saint John and working together to plan for the future of this facility is the key to driving business,” said Victoria Clarke, Executive Director of Discover Saint John. “Our event sales team will be actively working with these sporting groups to help them sell this venue, our city and province to prospective events. They know their sport and we can help them marketing Saint John as a great host city.”