The soccer dome being named in honour of former city councillor Fabio Belli could be built as early as January 2019, members of the community services committee were told this week.
Dino Moretta, co-chair of Fabio Belli Foundation, told councillors the group hopes it will be ready by then, admitting it's an “aggressive” timeline.
"We've had discussions with various builders," Moretta said. "We now think it's possible."
Ward 8 Coun. Al Sizer, who now holds the council seat Belli held before his death in 2014, has made it a priority to help the project get off the ground. He was encouraged to hear of the ambitious building schedule.
"I would like to see it up and running sooner rather than later," Sizer said.
Indoor soccer players in Sudbury have been homeless since they lost access to the Exhibition Centre facility on Falconbridge Road a few years ago, forcing them to rely on gymnasiums with hard floors.
Moretta said the dome is particularly important in a place like Greater Sudbury, where cold winter months make it easy to stay home and do nothing.
"People love their iPads, they love to sit in front of the TV," Moretta said.
The dome will help young people especially exercise in winter and hone their skills in a variety of sports. The dome will be built on the fields next to Lasalle Secondary School in New Sudbury, where Sudbury MPP Glenn Thibeault announced $4 million in funds for the project last month.
The dome will be 94,000 square feet air supported structure, with three smaller soccer fields that can be converted into one regulation size field, or a full baseball diamond.
There will also be shower facilities, partitions to separate different activities at once, and a four-lane track.
"The province has committed $4 million to this project, which is almost enough to build what we want to build," Moretta said.
People will be able to play a variety of warm-weather sports year-round, he said – even Frisbee.
"We want it to be a true multi-sports facility," Moretta said. "We've heard back from many different organizations who say they will be using this."
The group ran the Exhibition Centre for years, he said, and were able to pay their bills. They play to hire some full-time staff to run the facility, in addition to their volunteers. What they hope the city will provide is things like road maintenance near the dome and upgrades to the field house.
“We have the experience doing this,” Moretta said. "What we're hoping from you, the City of Greater Sudbury, is a partnership."
Ward 7 Coun. Mike Jakubo said he was impressed by the level of detail in the group's supporting documents, noting they have set aside funds to replace the turf in the long-term, and a plan on how to deal with something like the roof loosing air and in need of repairs.
"There's not a great burden on the taxpayers on an annual basis going forward," Jakubo said.
Read the full plan here.