THUNDER BAY -- The city will provide "up to" $106,000 to plan a new home for Thunder Bay's soccer community.
During budget deliberations on Wednesday, council voted to commit to covering as much of the $136,000 beyond the $30,000 Soccer Northwest has already raised to plan a proposed $25-million soccer complex to be built at Chapples Park.
The first phase will also support business planning for the facility, which would be owned by the city. Soccer Northwest has vowed to continue their fundraising efforts and reimburse the municipality where those efforts prove successful.
Council voted to dispense the money through the Renew Thunder Bay fund, as to avoid impacting the 2017 budget tax levy.
"I think it's great," said Soccer Northwest technical director Adam Augruso following council's decision.
"The soccer community as a whole didn't really care necessarily the way it came about. Jus,t we know we needed a facility and this is the start of that process so we're super excited about that."
Indoor soccer space has been sparse since the Sports Dome collapsed in November, prompting entire leagues to be cancelled while many among those who are still playing are using gymnasium floors in place of turf.
Augruso said his organization hopes to begin the process immediately with the aim of having a facility built in 2018.
The Thunder Bay Chill, Lakehead Express, Thunder Bay Men's Soccer Club and Thunder Bay Women's Soccer Club have all signed onto the proposed facility's framework agreement.