Soccer needs a 'home' in Thunder Bay, says coach
Soccer teams playing in school gyms, indoor tennis courts since the Sports Dome collapsed in November
One month after the collapse of the Sports Dome in Thunder Bay, Ont., a local soccer enthusiast says it's becoming clearer than ever that the city needs a stand-alone soccer facility.
"We need a structure that we can call home," said John Rider, a coach with the Thunder Bay Chill.
"I can only imagine if there were no hockey rinks in town what would happen."
Over the past month soccer teams have been practicing in school gyms, and at space at Confederation College and at the Lakehead University Hangar, he said.
They're grateful for the space, but it's been a "scheduling nightmare," Rider said, adding that games in school gyms and on tennis courts have not been ideal.
Sport needs room to grow
Rider said he's worried that it could be spring before any decision is made about reopening the Sports Dome, but he added that even before the collapse, the soccer community had been stretched for space.
Over the years, Rider said he's seen the sport grow by leaps and bounds in Thunder Bay, but the lack of a dedicated year-round facility has been frustrating.
"The sport is growing, which is great," he said. "But we need to grow with it, and we need to have somewhere for these people to play, right?"
Rider said he hopes the collapse of the Sports Dome prompts the city to put a greater emphasis on soccer in its recreation plan.
"It's not a matter of trying to fight with other sports," he said. "I'm a hockey fan so I know hockey players need their ice. I know tennis players need their courts, but we need a field just like any other sport to keep these kids involved."
"Even in somewhere like Kenora, which is obviously a lot smaller than we are, they have an indoor [soccer] facility," he said. "I'm not sure on the size of it down there, but I know they have one."
"So if Kenora can do it I'm sure we can."