Spruce Meadows will be home grounds for Calgary's Canadian Premier League soccer team
Calgary, Halifax, York Region, Ont., and Port City, B.C. approved to join Canadian Premier League
Spruce Meadows will be the home grounds for Calgary's Tier 1 professional soccer club when the Canadian Premier League launches next season, newly appointed team president Ian Allison confirmed Sunday.
"We have a number of designs underway," he said. "One of the great things we have that puts us at a bit of an advantage over some of our colleagues is that we have a great infrastructure at Spruce Meadows that also has, if you will, federation approved facilities — a different federation albeit — with grass rings and drainage and all those types of things so there are a number of things that are going to be unveiled in the next couple of weeks."
Calgary was one of four groups approved for professional club membership by Soccer Canada at its annual general meeting in Yellowknife, paving the way for them to join the CPL.
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Clubs from Halifax, Port City, B.C., and York Region, Ont., also got the seal of approval.
Port City is not an actual city in B.C., but is thought to represent an as yet unnamed city in the Lower Mainland, though no official announcement has been made.
The CPL was approved for league membership with Soccer Canada last year, along with clubs in Hamilton and Winnipeg.
CPL is set to debut as a professional men's soccer league in the spring of 2019, and will serve as a Tier 1 league.
FIFA, the sport's world governing body, still has to approve the league and its clubs.
Recognition from Canada's national association was a necessary step before that could happen.
Spruce Meadows Sports and Entertainment will be the ownership group behind the Calgary team.
Allison said players will come from all over the world, "but the majority of them on the field of play will be Canadian."
Jump into soccer
Known as one of the world's premier equestrian facilities since it opened in the 1970s, Allison said making the jump into soccer isn't that much of a stretch for Spruce Meadows.
"It's truly an international game, the most international game," he said. "It's clean, it's green, it's international, it spans the generations, it fits many of the fundamental tenets Spruce Meadows was founded on.
"We've got a bit of a model with what's happened at Spruce Meadows over the last 43 years and there's this wonderful facility we hope can also become somewhat iconic, if not unique, because we are a little different than most stadiums, in the years and decades to come."
Allison said a 5,000 to 7,000 seat home stadium will be constructed on the grounds.
Further announcements around the club's structure and organization will be made in the coming weeks, said Allison.
With files from The Canadian Press