New Brunswick

Moncton needs artificial turf field: athletes

A group of parents and high school football players is taking advantage of Sunday's CFL game in Moncton to raise awareness and funds for their game via three high school "future stars" games at Rocky Stone Field.

A group of parents and high school football players is hoping to cash in on the growing popularity of football in Moncton to raise funds for a new artificial turf field.

The Canadian Football League will be hosting a game in Moncton on Sunday, the second time a regular season event has been held in the city.

Leading up to Sunday's football game, six local high school teams will take on one another in the so-called "future stars" games being held at Rocky Stone field.

The group said Wednesday that the demand for sports fields in Moncton has experienced considerable growth recently. They hope to raise $2.5 million for a new artificial turf field near Bernice MacNaughton High School.

Jan Carinci, a former CFL player and member of the Touchdown Atlantic organizing committee, said that football is exploding in popularity in Moncton.

"We get this one game a year — hopefully, more to come in future years — but people get excited about it and they know all eyes are on us and they want to show what we can do and I think that's the bottom line," he said. 

The high school games will include $13,000 in "spirit awards" for high school football programs.

The game is supported by the Touchdown Atlantic organizing committee, which promotes CFL games in the Atlantic region.

Carinci said the prize money would be awarded in part based on how enthusiastically fans enter the field.

"We are getting requests for things like, can we put horses in our parade? Can we have a flatbed truck as part of our entrance? I would encourage fans, alumni of the schools, to watch the passion and the spirit these kids demonstrate coming into the stadium, the half-time shout out, it's going to be a great time."

Moncton currently has one artificial turf field, compared to three each in Fredericton and Saint John.

Local rugby coach, trainer and athlete Angela Harris has worked to organize a tailgate breakfast to raise money for a second field. Harris said artificial turf drains more quickly and is safer.

"Everyone is nodding in agreement and saying yes you know there's not enough facilities; there's not enough fields. We're all vying for position to try and get on Rocky Stone on any given day and I guess we're just the group of people that have said well look, let's make this happen," she said.

Harris hopes Saturday's tailgate breakfast will raise awareness and some of the $2.5 million cost of the new field.