A major soccer project for Feildian Grounds may only be a year away.
The Feildians Athletic Association (FAA) has plans to upgrade the Grounds to include installation of a regulation-size FieldTurf pitch, new dressing rooms facilities and additional landscaping at the old Portugfal Cove Rd. pitch at an overall cost of $1.34 million.
“We’re two years trying to put this together,” said FAA member Phil Oliver, who is optimistic the project will get the green light.
“Everybody we’ve met with is on side with us,” said Oliver, including the City of St. John’s, the recreation and sports division of the provincial government, the St. John’s Soccer Association and the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association.
Oliver said the project will provide significant benefits for local soccer at the youth and senior level by upgrading one of the finest locations for game in St. John’s.
In the summary of the proposal, it states, “as an upgrade of an existing facility, it will enhance the aesthetic qualities of Feildian Grounds without having any adverse effects on neighbouring properties.”
“We’ve met with the residents of the area and pointed out that nothing is going to change, really,” noted Oliver. “We’re just upgrading the clubhouse and adding new washroom facilities and dressing rooms for female teams.”
The Grounds will still have enough room for a grass-surface field as well, he added.
Upgrading the FAA facility, said Oliver, will allow the City of St. John’s to play host to any level of national or international tournament play given that King George V Park and Mount Pearl also have FieldTurf facilities available.
But, Oliver said, there is a desperate need for more facilities for minor, youth and female soccer, including proper washroom and dressing room facilities.
Oliver said there has been a great demand for the current field in recent years, and he expects the new artificial facility to be more capable of handling the extra use.
It’s been pointed out that in spite of the high initial costs, such facilities have been shown to be cost effective over the longer term.
Certainly, it would seem the time has arrived for a proper upgrade given the Grounds long history.
Feildian Grounds, which is adjacent to Riverdale Tennis Club, was opened in 1927 and R.R. Wood Memorial Pavilion, which houses the changing and washroom facilities at the Grounds, was built about 60 years ago.
The Grounds was originally designed to incorporate a soccer field surrounded by a cinder running tack, a field hockey pitch and a baseball/softball diamond. Only the soccer field remains today.
Oliver noted there is a kickoff fundraiser set for Wednesday at the Canon Sterling Hall on Craigmillar Ave. “to get the ball moving,” and the 220 tickets available are all ready sold.
“We could have sold more if we’d had a bigger venue,” he said.