Thursday, August, 11, 2011 - 10:10:13 AM
Soccer complex ready to roll
By Ned Bekavac
Until almost 10 years ago, Guelph Soccer hosted thousands of young players for its annual Royal City Soccer Tournament.
And thanks to a brand new facility being built at the University of Guelph, those days may return.
“We could become a major tournament site and this could be a site for Guelph Soccer to host big tournaments,” says Bill Clausen, facilities manager of the University of Guelph’s athletic department.
The site is the new Gryphon Soccer Complex.
Situated on the east side of the University of Guelph campus, near The Arboretum, the facility will feature two full-sized artificial soccer fields, a half-sized practice field with natural grass and a full-sized rugby/football field, also with natural grass.
There are stadium lights for night usage. One of the soccer pitches will have seating for roughly 450 spectators, and the other for approximately 120.
One of the full-sized soccer fields is up and running. The next will be ready to go next week.
“We’re really proud of it,” says Clausen. “We’re looking forward to seeing our (Gryphons) teams, our intramural program and the community up here to take advantage of an exceptional facility.”
Phase 1 of the project has a tab of $5.4 million and it is being funded by student fees approved in a 2010 referendum.
Phase 2 – which is expected to include things such as concessions and change rooms – has neither a price tag nor a projected time line at the moment, Clausen says.
The artifical turf will allow users the chance to play pretty much year-round. Even in winter, snow can be cleared from the fields and they can be used, Clausen said.
This time last year, the school opened Varsity Field, an artificial field a stone’s throw from the new complex, to glowing reviews.
Local rep soccer players took to the field this year in April – whereas natural fields aren’t to be used until later on – and their feedback has been great.
“They love it,” says Alan Gould, executive director of Guelph Soccer. “It’s a top quality turf and plays more like grass than any other (artificial) turf they play on.”
While Gould wouldn’t elaborate about Guelph Soccer potentially hosting tournaments again, he said they would consider using the multiple fields at the U of G “in any tournament plans we may have.”
Until 2002, the local soccer club hosted the annual Royal City Soccer Tournament, which brought hundreds of teams to the city. The plug was pulled on the event largely because of the poor quality of local fields.
The Gryphon Soccer Complex, which Clausen says will be considered one of the top such facilities in Southern Ontario, is for more than just footy, too.
The 2011 OUA women’s field lacrosse championships take place there in October and it can be used for field hockey and the like. Gryphon soccer teams will play home games there.
More and more artificial fields seem to be popping up all over the place and Clausen says that’s the route to go.
“If you’re going to use a field eight hours a day, six days a week like we do, natural grass just won’t stand up to that.”
There may be artificial turf in store down the road for Alumni Stadium, home of the football Gryphons, as well, Clausen said.
Gould says the artificial surface is great because it extends players’ outdoor seasons.
“It’s a huge benefit,” he said.