Moncton invests $1.5M into 2 new soccer fields
University of Moncton's natural grass field is in question
Moncton is spending $1.5-million to convert two high school soccer fields to artificial turf from natural grass as a way to accommodate the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2015.
Soccer fields at Bernice MacNaughton High School and Harrison Trimble High School are barely useable now because they are in poor shape.
Along with the city's investment, the two schools are raising an estimated $500,000 to upgrade the fields.
The fields will be used as practice areas when the FIFA Women's World Cup comes to Moncton in 2015.
Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc said he understands $1.5 million is a lot of money but he sees it as an investment for the city.
"This is money that we've had budgeted for some time now and an opportunity came up that we were able to turn it into something really good for the city," he said.
The investment is being welcomed by high school soccer players.
Matt Smith, a member of the Bernice MacNaughton High School soccer team, said the school’s field is bumpy and difficult to play on now.
"Our field out back is really bad, [it has] lots of potholes. You can't even play games right now at our home field," Smith said.
"We have to go to the CN Sportsplex [or] down to Rocky Stone. It's just really, really bad at our school right now."
Caleb Bourgeois, another high school soccer player, said the new fields are also important so other Moncton residents have access to better sports facilities.
"It's a great thing for Moncton to have the recreational centres that people can use and plus they're, like, really good quality too." Bourgeois said.
University field's future in question
While two schools are getting new fields, the fate of the pitch at the University of Moncton is in the air.
The university field is natural grass but FIFA, the international governing body for soccer, and the Canadian Soccer Association want artificial turf for the 2015 event.
Jacques Dubé, the city manager in Moncton, said the request came after Moncton was named a host field for the international soccer tournament.
"When we bid on this event and were awarded it, we were awarded it on the basis that we had a natural turf. That was their criteria, since then the criteria has changed since they awarded it," he said.
"The criteria has changed. They know whatever happens there is going to be at their expense but those final decisions will be made by them along with the university and the city in partnership."
The Canada’s women's soccer team is no stranger to the field at the university, however.
The team played an international friendly against China on the pitch last summer.