Would an in­door fa­cil­ity work?

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

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.

Don Coombs

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.”

COMPASS FILE PHOTO

With an in­door recre­ation fa­cil­ity, sports like soft­ball can start sooner in the sea­son.

TC ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

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.

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