Would an indoor facility work?
With so many athletic associations in the Conception Bay North area, one has to wonder whether an indoor recreation facility would represent a practical investment. Facilities like the Techniplex in St. John’s give athletes in that region a leg up when it comes to preparing for the upcoming season, and some recreation leaders think such a facility could work here.
Whether you want to admit it or not, when it comes to summer sports, the Trinity-Conception-Placentia region is at a disadvantage.
The athletes in St. John’s and Mount Pearl have the upper hand and it is not just a numbers game. They have access to a host of facilities and programs unavailable to athletes ‘ around the bay.’
They can get their athletes training and on the field yearround if they like. With a complex like the TechniPlex available to them for indoor soccer, softball, rugby and football, athletes can play year round and learn from coaches.
So, it begs the question: Would an indoor turf facility work in this region?
To find an answer, The Compass asked a trio of local minor sports figures for their opinion on the subject.
CBN minor soccer’s Don Coombs was first off the mark with a response.
“I think if all the sports go together and I’m talking softball, which can practice, I’m talking track, I’m talking soccer, you could do some touch football and different things. If they all got together and it was done regionally, where everyone could contribute to it, I think it could be something we could look at,” he said. “It can’t just be for soccer.”
Bay Roberts recreation director Ian Flynn envisions a space dedicated to courts, gymnasiums as well as a turf facility. A total indoor recreation complex if you will.
“The possibilities are endless,” said Flynn of the recreation options available if there was an indoor facility. “If the programs are there to entice people, I think it’ll work. If you have the proper facilities, the proper programs and the proper people running it, then yes.”
Baseball CBN past president Scott Adams believes not only his program, but all athletic programs would benefit from being able to run a winter ball program and maintain any momentum built during the summer season.
“I know I’d appreciate going two to three times a week on a smaller surface with a couple of kids and keeping up their baseball skills,” he said.
Not only kids
Having an indoor recreation facility would allow for adult leagues to prosper as well as ones geared towards the younger demographic. From slow-pitch softball to games of touch football, everything could be run out of this sort of facility.
Being able to train year round puts certain local programs at a competitive disadvantage right from the start. Some are forced to turn their focus to other sports as they seek to keep their competitive edge.
Baseball CBN has made sporadic use of the Upper Island Cove Recreation Centre — which was designed as a regional facility —for some form of spring training over the past 10 years. However, the building isn’t condusive to helping the players prepare for a season playing outside.
“Right now, we’re at a competitive disadvantage as the kids get older,” said Adams.
From a recreation side, not having such a facility hampers people like Flynn from offering his residents physical activity options when temperatures fall.
“It makes it hard for us to plan recreation activities from September to May,” he said. Location, location, location While saying the concept of a indoor recreation/turf facility is great, there would need to be a centralized location with easy access for all interested in using the facility.
It doesn’t have to be the TechniPlex. The TechinPlex is the Cadillac when you’d only need a Volkswagon out here.
Adams suggested the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium with its high ceiling and considerable size would be an ideal location once it becomes vacant after Harbour Grace completes the planned new stadium. Mount Pearl converted Smallwood Arena into a facility with field turf when it ceased operations as an ice rink.
“I see something on a smaller scale,” he said. ‘Realistically, that is somewhere we would have to look.”
There is also the question of paying for such a facility. The TechniPlex in St. John’s has a corporate sponsor — Technip — with deep pockets to help foot the bills and charges up- wards to $350 for the full field per hour and $125 for 1/3 of the field.
Would there be such a sponsor in the CBN region or would it be a public building? Either way, there would have to be big decisions if such a venture was started here. One thing is for sure though — there would be support for such a facility in the region.
“I think you could look at something happening and share it as a regional facility,” said Coombs. “It doesn’t have to be the TechniPlex. The TechniPlex is the Cadillac when you’d only need a Volkswagon out here.
“There is every sport on the go around here.”
With an indoor recreation facility, sports like softball can start sooner in the season.
The TechniPlex indoor recreation facility in St. John’s hosts a variety of events, including Sport Newfoundland and Labrador’s Sportsfest. In a photo taken at the 2012 edition of the event, five-year-old Ariel Bailey of St. John’s leaps over hurdles.