The future home of the Bonivital Flames Soccer Club is another kick closer to becoming a top class soccer facility for both grassroots players finding their feet and the cream of the international crop.
It was recently announced that St. Vital Memorial Park, located at 100 Sunset Blvd. in the Elm Park neighbourhood, will receive $500,000 from two levels of government for the renovation of the facility’s 50-year-old fieldhouse.
Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital) said the city’s contribution will total $365,000, including $250,000 from the city’s capital budget for existing buildings. The city and the province will kick in another $135,000 under the joint city-provincial Building Communities Initiative (BCI).
The announcement marks the latest stage of the facility’s development and evolution of the facility. Last year, the province invested $900,000 to convert the field from natural to synthetic grass, designed to improve the field’s drainage, as well as extend the length of the soccer season.
Upgrades to the fieldhouse will include new washrooms, changing facilities and office space, as well as some exterior building work.
Mayes said work on the fieldhouse will begin "as soon as possible" with city officials working in conjunction with organizers at Bonivital to have the building fully-renovated and completed by May 1, 2015. That’s the deadline for the facility to get the green light to be used as a practice facility for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, the most prestigious tournament in women’s soccer, which will be held in Canada from June 6 to July 5, 2015. Winnipeg is one of the six host cities.
Crews will be able to work through the winter on the project, Mayes added.
"There are two stages to this story," Mayes said. "We’ve got to be ready for the World Cup and then it will become the new headquarters of Bonivital, which the Memorial Park site from the city, so it’s great for them," Mayes said.
"In this respect, the World Cup coming to Winnipeg is going to have two effects. It will help raise the profile of soccer even further and these facilities will have a long-lasting impact in the community at the grassroots level. (St. Vital MLA) Nancy Allan has been great to work with on this. She was the driving force behind last year’s funding by the province."
In keeping with the soccer fever in the air, the recent announcement came days before Canada’s women’s national team is due to play its archrivals the U.S. in the team’s first home game of 2014 at Investor’s Group Field on Thurs., May 8.
The Canadian squad includes Winnipeg’s own local soccer legend Desiree Scott, who currently plays her club soccer in England for Notts County Ladies. The fixture will give local fans what is now a rare chance to see the defensive midfield anchor play in her hometown.
The game will be broadcast on Sportsnet One at 7 p.m. local time.