PEI

UPEI hopeful soccer turf can be repaired by fall

UPEI is still hopeful a new soccer turf will be in place by this fall. 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.

'It's important not only for UPEI, but for Charlottetown and for the province'

The Canadian Soccer Association allowed these U-18 players to use the field in October 2015 but told the P.E.I. Soccer Association that the turf needed to be replaced for the next national championship. (CBC)
UPEI is still hopeful a new soccer turf will be in place by this fall.

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 were very disappointed," said Jackie Podger, UPEI Vice President Administration and Finance. 

"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" 

Podger was also responding to the news that the City of Charlottetown told a university fundraising group that it will not commit any money toward replacing the artificial turf at UPEI.

"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.

UPEI VP Jackie Podger says the university is looking for more funding partners to help replace the artificial turf. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

"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."

According to Podger, the university has experts who ensure that the turf field is constantly being assessed to make sure it's safe. 

"If we don't feel it's safe, we won't have players on the field," said Podger. 

However she agrees the field, now more than 10 years old, is at the end of its life.

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.

P.E.I. Soccer Association president John Diamond looks at one of the spots on the UPEI turf that has been patched. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

"We're certainly dismayed that this has come to this position," Joe Guest with the Canadian Soccer Association told CBC. 

"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.

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