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Sports bubble not burst yet: St. Charles dome delayed a year

Sudbury’s indoor soccer teams will have to wait at least another year before before they get to play in a multi-million dollar sports dome proposed for St. Charles College.
A multi-sports dome, similar to this one in King City, Ont., has been delayed another year. The multi-million dollar facility will be built on the grounds of ST. Charles College, has been postponed until 2014. Supplied photo

Sudbury’s indoor soccer teams will have to wait at least another year before before they get to play in a multi-million dollar sports dome proposed for St. Charles College.

Unlike when the dome was delayed last year, however, members of the Sudbury Indoor Soccer Club won't have to play another season on concrete floors in a gymnasium.

When plans for the dome were announced in April 2012, the developer was so certain it would be complete by last fall, the indoor soccer club allowed its lease at the Exhibition Centre on Falconbridge Road to expire. The artificial turf was removed, leaving the league without a suitable facility.

But this year, new turf has been put down in the centre and developer Louis Kitevski said he signed a lease for this season, with an eye on building the dome next spring.

Kitevski, director of a domed facility in Toronto, said a number of technical issues have slowed progress, but one in particular is presenting major challenges: concrete.

Toronto domes typically require three-foot wide concrete borders buried anywhere from four to seven feet into the ground, depending on soil conditions and the size of the dome, he said. But to build the 80,000 square foot dome planned for Sudbury, the city requires concrete borders that are four feet wide and buried eight feet into the ground.

That's because of soil conditions at the St. Charles field, and the fact more insulation is required in Sudbury than in domes built in more southerly climates.

“It's a major issue,” Kitevski said, since the added concrete will push the cost of the facility to more than $3 million, $700,000 higher than initial estimates.

He said the extra concrete is “excessive” and not required for safety, since the dome is pinned to the concrete.

“It's not for support,” he said.

But he's still committed to the Sudbury facility, Kitevski said, which, when complete, will have enough room for four small fields for soccer and two for baseball, as well as a batting cage and a running track along the dome's perimeter.

Once construction begins, it will take two to three months to finish. It will cover the majority of the field at St. Charles and inside, along with the fields, there will be change rooms and a clubhouse.

It will be a major boost to the city's sports scene, Kitevski said, since athletes will be able to train and play games year-round, significantly boosting their skill levels.

“You can't learn to play soccer on a gym floor,” he said.

The dome would be built by the Farely Group, a Guelph-based company that has built several similar domes in Canada and the U.S.

While no city money is being spent on the project, Ward 8 Coun. Fabio Belli has been an active supporter of the plan since it was first announced. He's been working with city staff and the developer to try and work out any issues.

“It's been a difficult process, but it's not dead,” Belli said Thursday. “It's proceeding.”

Rising costs, working out technical issues with the city, and other renovation work being done at St. Charles meant there wasn't enough time to get get everything finished this year, he said. The indoor soccer season normally starts in late fall.

He had high praise for the Exhibition Centre's Meri-Lynn Butler, who was able to accommodate the indoor soccer club with a short-term lease. He'll make a formal announcement at city council on Tuesday, Belli said, to give the community a full update on the project.

Darren MacDonald

About the Author: Darren MacDonald

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