Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay Catholic high schools to get new tracks and fields

Thunder Bay's Catholic school board is putting millions into new recreational facilities at its two high schools.

Facilities costing $2.3 million per school, and will be ready for start of 2017/2018 school year, board says

St. Patrick's High School students Colin Wiseman, left, and Eric Nisioiu unveil an artist's rendering of the new recreational facilities at St. Pat's. Both that school and St. Ignatius are getting new running tracks and artificial-turf fields. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

Thunder Bay's Catholic school board is putting millions into new recreational facilities at its two high schools.

Both St.Ignatius and St. Patrick will get new, 400-metre running tracks and new Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Level 1-certified artificial turf fields.

The projects are valued at about $2.3 million per school, the school board said in a news release distributed at a media event on Thursday. The funding is coming from board funds allocated to capital, as well as a School Condition Improvement Grant from the provincial government.

"It's huge," said Pino Tassone, the board's director of education. "It gives us an opportunity to enhance our physical education programming along with out athletic programming, and it's not just for our high schools — it's going to enhance programming in our feeder schools as well."

In place by end of August

The new facilities are expected to be in place by the end of August, in time for the start of the 2017/2018 school year.

The tracks will be synthetic, and suitable for all-weather use.

The playing fields, meanwhile, will duplicate the performance of "good quality grass," the board said.

Tassone said the fields will be used for multiple sports, including soccer, football and lacrosse.

"It's been a tremendous move with the ministry around student well-being," Tassone said. "And by having a field like that, we hope that we're going to get more physical participation."

The hope, too, is that the fields will help prevent injuries related to poor field conditions, board chair Bob Hupka said in the release.

St. Ignatius student Nick D'Angelo said he's looking forward to playing on the new fields.

St. Ignatius student Nick D'Angelo (Jeff Walters/CBC)

"It's an opportunity to play on a field like to play on a field like the people down in southern Ontario get to play (on)," he said. "I play both football and soccer, so it's just super-exciting to play on that field. Practices will be more fun; everyone will be looking forward to it."

D'Angelo said the existing field at St. Ignatius can be hard to play on, particularly after rainfall.

"If it rained the day before, then it's all muddy, there are potholes," he said. "The grass has never grown fully, and it's a hard surface to play on."

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