Yellowknife soccer group wants better surface at fieldhouse, not multi-use floor

Local soccer boosters say that instead of a new multi-use floor for Yellowknife's fieldhouse, the city should be budgeting for another option: a more soccer-friendly surface.

'Hardly a week goes by I don't have a kid who falls down and gets up with a bleeding knee,' says coach

Parents concerned by the City of Yellowknife's plan to purchase a new multi-use floor for the fieldhouse brought their children to Monday's council meeting, some dressed in their soccer clothes. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

Rubber or plastic? When it comes to the soccer fields at Yellowknife's fieldhouse, it's a weighty question.

The City of Yellowknife's draft 2016 budget calls for a plastic, multi-purpose floor that can be installed on one of the fields, at a cost of $190,000.

The new floor would not replace the field's current, carpet turf surface. Instead, one surface could be switched out for the other, particularly during summer, when soccer heads outdoors and the city hopes to attract other users to the under-used facility.

"We've had some discussions with some of the various user groups in town other than soccer," said Grant White, director of community services.

"They may not be using it for typical league use, but they would be using it for camps, special events."

But local soccer boosters say the city should be budgeting for a different scenario, one they say would see the facility get more bookings: a more sport-friendly floor.

Soccer coach Joe Acorn says a better surface in the fieldhouse for sports would attract more users. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

"I was just in the fieldhouse," said coach Joe Acorn, who took to the microphone Monday during a city council meeting set aside for public feedback on the draft budget.

"My knees are aching right now because that is not a good surface to play on. The proper indoor field turf is...basically fake grass, and it's crushed rubber. It creates a much more forgiving surface."

Many concerned parents brought their children to the council meeting, with some kids clothed in their soccer regalia.

"There's hardly a week goes by I don't have a kid who falls down and gets up with a bleeding knee," said Acorn.

"I know a number of adults who've stopped playing adult soccer because they simply cannot take the beating that that gives them on their body anymore. The proper field turf would get more adults out."

Acorn said the city's booking policy is to blame for the fields' under-use.

"We've been trying to get more time in the fields. However, there's one user group that, quite frankly, the city seems to view as the priority tenant," said Acorn, without specifying the rival group.

"When we're trying to get additional time — during which the other user group lets the field sit empty — we can't get it. Because the city has this prior-use policy in place which says that if you booked it from 7 to 9 last year, you automatically get dibs on it next year, regardless of whether or not you used it."

At the end of his presentation, Acorn attempted to get councillor Julian Morse to ask probing questions of city administrators, which members of the public cannot do during council meetings. 

Mayor Mark Heyck put an end to Acorn's bid.

"We can't keep going back and forth like this," said Heyck.

Councillor Niels Konge suggested Acorn email his questions so they could be asked during budget deliberations.

Morse and fellow councillor Shauna Morgan thanked the soccer fans in attendance at the meeting for their visible passion.

Councillors will hash over the budget Wednesday and Thursday. City council is expected to approve the final budget on Monday.