There were some tears Thursday at Lasalle Secondary when Sudbury MPP Glenn Thibeault announced the province was providing $4 million for a sports dome at the school.
The dome, which will host soccer and baseball activities during the long winter months, will be named in honour of the late Fabio Belli, the city councillor and rabid sports fan who passed away four years ago this month.
Thibeault was friends with Belli, and remembered talking with him often about his plans for the dome. With Belli's wife, Susan, two daughters and his parents looking on, Thibeault got choked up talking about his friend.
"It is with a lot of emotion that we come here tonight," he said. "You're dad would be very, very proud, Emma.
"The leadership we have through the Fabio Belli Foundation, through the school board, through our city, I'm very, very pleased to announce that through the Province of Ontario, we'll be investing $4 million to build a public, multi-purpose sports facility."
That was followed by sustained applause from the crowded gym at Lasalle, packed with students, the public and community leaders.
"We are such a sporting community, and I think Fabio recognized that back in the day," Thibeault said. "I know he's looking down on us today and feeling and being very, very excited. It's his vision that is coming to fruition today, and it's his idea, I'm so happy to be able to help finish that."
Belli's wife, Susan, remarked the fourth anniversary of his passing is just a week away.
“A day that changed my life, my daughter's lives and the lives of many others," she said. "I thought I might be standing watching him make this announcement one day."
His daughter, Emma, said the dome means people can play soccer in Sudbury year round, “even when you look outside and see snow.
"I will feel happy when I see my dad's name, because it was important him," Emma said. "Thank you for working to make a better community for Sudbury."
Construction of the dome could begin as early as this spring, said Norm Blaseg, education director at the Rainbow District School Board.
Blaseg said students from all school boards will have access to the dome, as well as schools in Espanola and Manitoulin Island. The $4 million means they have the money to get the facility built without taking from their budget, he said.
The school board will use the dome during the day when school activities take place, but after 5 p.m. and on weekends it we be available to the public.
"Those are things that we will work out," Blaseg said.