UPEI hopeful soccer turf can be repaired by fall
'It's important not only for UPEI, but for Charlottetown and for the province'
The university was reacting to news that the Under-16 national championships have been pulled from P.E.I. this October because the local and national soccer associations feel the field is no longer safe to use.
"We would have loved to have partnered with those folks. This was an important event that we too were hoping would come to P.E.I."
City says "no"
"It's a tight fiscal time for everyone," said Podger. "I can certainly understand where the city is coming from."
But Podger believes the city has a responsibility to support the complex, even if it is on UPEI property.
If we don't feel it's safe, we won't have players on the field.— Jackie Podger, UPEI
"I think that it's a community resource," Podger points out.
"We have over 85 per cent of people that are community that use the field. So I think it's important if we can all partner together to try to keep that field going."
"It's important not only for UPEI, not only for the city, but for Charlottetown and for the province."
The university says it will take about $900 thousand to get the turf back in shape.
"Certainly we're going to look to partner with folks and we do that every day," explained Podger.
"We would look to partner potentially with the province, potentially with the federal government, anyone that we can look to to be a funding partner that will help us out, manage the field, make it a sustainable field."
"If we don't feel it's safe, we won't have players on the field," said Podger.
There is some money put aside in a fund intended for field replacement, Podger said, but it's only about a tenth of the funds required.
National soccer body 'dismayed'
Meanwhile, the Canadian Soccer Association is also disappointed that repairs to the artificial turf have been delayed to the point that the championship has to be taken from Prince Edward Island.
"We know that they can host and we've done our best to leave it as long as we possibly could with them."
Island organizers were told last fall that the UPEI turf was "never going to come to the standard for this following October," Guest said, adding the CSA was led to believe there would be some changes made to the field.
The decision to withdraw shouldn't affect P.E.I.'s prospects down the road of hosting future events, said Guest, calling this "an unfortunate situation" for all involved.