THUNDER BAY – Indoor soccer could be a reality again in Thunder Bay as early as October.
Barring weather delays or additional restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the general manager of the Goal Sports Centre II indoor turf facility says the plan is to open the first of two domed fields at their Oliver Road site this fall.
The second domed field, which will be linked to the first, is expected to open in 2022, should demand warrant its construction at this time.
The second dome is being built in anticipation of a continued growth for the sport year round, though numbers have steadily declined in recent years with a lack of available playing time when the outdoor season ends in the fall.
Carmen Felice, general manager of the facility, said the developers have reconfigured the original plan, in order to meet that expected demand – even if it does take some time to bring the numbers back up to what they once were.
“We wanted to make sure we had something in place, if the numbers of participants grow. We know that in the past five years, because there hasn’t been a proper indoor facility, the numbers have gone down,” Felice said.
“That’s why we’re proceeding with the first dome. But we would like to have the option of a second one, once the numbers are back up.”
At one point there were two indoor soccer facilities operating at the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition. The Sports Dome, the larger of the two, collapsed in November 2016.
It’s not just soccer, he added. The group behind the project has approached a number of other user groups, and upgraded the turf being installed in order to promote and accommodate larger tourism events and fairs.
To open up more availability for soccer, developers have decided to build a field that’s approximately 105 feet by 205 feet, which can be split down the middle to create a pair of smaller fields of about 100 feet by 105 feet.
The original design called for two fields of 150 feet by 90 feet.
“We decided to go with the one bigger field in order for user groups to be able to afford it, if they only need to use half the field, which is still a good size,” Felice said.
Before the pandemic struck, the City of Thunder Bay had proposed building a $30-million indoor sports facility. Felice said should it still go ahead, they’d be willing to partner with the city to help bring bigger soccer and other sporting events to Thunder Bay.