Sudbury

Two local groups working to bring their own indoor sports domes to Sudbury

Two Sudbury non-profit groups each want to build their own year-round indoor soccer facilities.

Sudbury District Sports Club working with French Catholic School Board to lease field

Two Sudbury non-profit organizations are working on separate projects to build their own domes for indoor soccer and other sports. (File)

An indoor sports dome that could be used throughout the winter has long been on the wish-list for Sudbury residents and community leaders alike. That wish could become a reality — on two fronts, if a pair of local groups each have their way.

The Fabio Belli Foundation is seeking support from three levels of government to erect a public facility. The non-profit organization is named after the late Sudbury city councillor who had a passion for soccer and championed youth sport and recreation,

Meanwhile, the Sudbury District Sports Club (SDSC) says it has about $3 million in funding from a private company to put up its own bubble-like dome it says could host multiple sports year-round.

Club president Wayne Trainor says the company wishes to remain anonymous until all agreements are finalized.

He explains the non-profit SDSC plans to sign a lease agreement in the coming weeks with the Conseil scolaire catholique du Nouvel-Ontario.

This field, located off Kathleen Avenue at École Sacré-Coeur in Sudbury, could become home to the Sudbury District Sports Club’s proposed year-round multi-sports dome should a lease agreement with the French Catholic school board be reached. (Benjamin Aubé/CBC)

The school board confirmed the talks, but stated any lease agreement wouldn't be signed this week.

The air-supported structure would be installed on a soccer field adjacent to Kathleen Avenue at École secondaire Sacré-Coeur. There are two other soccer fields on the school's property.

The club says it and the school board are also working out permit requirements with the city.

"If the city doesn't hold up permits and so on, our builder says he can have it up and running by November 1st," says Trainor.

Foundation waiting, but optimistic

Michel Larivière, a board member with the Fabio Belli Foundation, says the Foundation is trying to raise about $1 million locally, and is likely seeking similar financial commitments from each of the federal, provincial and municipal governments.

"We are all kind of waiting, but we're all quite hopeful (this will happen soon)," notes Larivière, adding he can't disclose the specifics of potential land agreements in the works.

Michel Larivière is a board member with the Fabio Belli Foundation, a group looking to garner support to build a year-round indoor soccer facility for the community. (Jean-Loup Doudard/Radio-Canada)

"The good news is there's never been any resistance. It's just been a matter of getting the right players at the table at the right time," he adds.

Both the Fabio Belli Foundation and the Sudbury District Sports Club agree on the need for a year-round sports facility — and perhaps even two — in Sudbury.

Trainor says he's met with members of the Foundation, and believes it's the case of two non-profit organizations using different methods to achieve the same goal.

"One's using private money, one's using public money," says Trainor. "Our mandate is to create a community multi-sports facility."

Greater Sudbury city councillor Robert Kirwan says he would fully support a privately funded facility, such as the one in the works with the SDSC at École Sacré-Coeur.

Kirwan adds council would also "need to take a hard look" at taking advantage of investing its share should provincial and federal governments get involved in a project like the one proposed by the Belli Foundation.

But he says he's not sure the City has the money to do so.

MPP on board, but province isn't yet

In an open letter published on his Facebook page earlier this week, Sudbury Liberal MPP Glenn Thibeault said Belli was a close friend.

"My friend Fabio worked tirelessly so that everyone in Sudbury could have access to the facilities to lead healthier more active lives, and I believe that fulfilling his dream of a year round sports field would do just that," stated Thibeault.

(Thomas Duncan/Canadian Press)

However, there was no firm mention of funding coming from the province for the Belli Foundation's efforts.

"I will work with city council, the school board, the community, and of course our provincial government to help us achieve this goal and create a new facility that Sudbury families will be able to benefit from," wrote Thibeault.

He also noted the City of Greater Sudbury released a recreation plan in 2014 that showed the community could support a two-field indoor sports facility.

About the Author

Benjamin Aubé is a journalist based out of Sudbury. If you have a story you'd like to share, email him at benjamin.aube@cbc.ca