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'I know he's looking down and smiling:' Fabio Belli Sports Centre officially opens

Sudbury's only indoor turf field hosts its first soccer game

Smiles were abound on Friday night as the first official soccer game at the Fabio Belli Sports Centre kicked off.

It's been a long time coming for Greater Sudbury to have an indoor sports centre, with numerous false starts, delays, different funding sources and proposed locations dating back as far as 2012.

On Valentine's Day however, that all came to a head, as the first soccer game kicked off at 6 p.m. with members of Belli's family in attendance.

"It's unbeliveable to see this, I wish my brother could be here to see this," said Sabrina Cimino, Belli's sister. "I know he's looking down and smiling."

Construction of the indoor sports dome got underway in August, 2019 and six months later the 56,000-square-foot facility opened its doors to the public, thanks in large part to $2 million in funding from the Rainbow District School Board.

"So many things had to fall into place for this to happen, we kept looking for partners and really this was made possible by the Rainbow Board," said Dino Moretta, chair of the Fabio Belli Foundation. 

"They (Rainbow Board) get it, the believe in Fabio's legacy and we have something amazing here in our community now."

The turf field will not only be used for soccer, but will provide a playing surface during the winter months for baseball, football, ultimate frisbee and more.

"There's so many different sports and different teams that are going to be able to use this," said Massimo Cimino, Fabio's nephew. "It's also going to minimize travel for teams that have to go south to play in the winter, I don't think there's too many facilities like this in Northern Ontario and I think this is going to be one of the best."

On the soccer side of things, Moretta is excited at what the sports dome will mean for growing the sport in the Nickel City.

"Our athletes can train here year round now, from a GSSC (Greater Sudbury Soccer Club) perspective this is so important in building from the ground up and for player development and I hope this leads to more participation and more kids getting into soccer."