Brockville council unanimously votes to enter into talks with Sports Dome Group

A new sports dome is one step closer to being built in Brockville. – Photo via Brockville Sports Dome Group

A new sports dome is one step closer to being built in Brockville.

At their regular council meeting on Oct. 24, Brockville City Council voted unanimously to direct staff to negotiate a partnership agreement with the Brockville Sports Dome Group, which has been working in a public-private partnership with the City of Brockville and local investors to raise money and negotiate details as to if, where and how the dome will be built.

The dome itself is expected to be 50,000 square feet in size, wherein “25 per cent of the enclosed area is proposed to be a hard court facility with two permanent squash courts and a hard court available for pickleball, basketball, volleyball etc.”

At the Oct. 24 meeting, it was suggested the dome would possibly be built on the M2 pitch at the Memorial field. This location is directly across from the parking lot adjacent to Laurier Boulevard.

Councillor Jane Fullarton commented that “the proposal was met with a lot of enthusiasm by the committee.”

“This is another vital piece of infrastructure for young families in particular, who we’re trying to attract, [which would] enable the soccer season to go through the winter months,” Fullarton continued.

Councillor Louise Severson then asked for confirmation on the total capital funds raised thus far by the Sports Dome Group. It was announced that the group has already raised $950,000, which equates to about 50 per cent of their final goal. 

The discourse in the comment section of a recent public social media post in the group “What’s going on in Brockville and area” suggests some Brockvillians have mixed feelings about the dome. A few citizens commented that the money the City of Brockville will inevitably put into the sports dome would be better allocated to other issues. Mike Laroque commented: “Honestly, at this point I’d be happy with healthcare, residential housing and sustainable employment lol…..maybe a couple rehab clinics.”

Jo-Ann Adams agreed with that sentiment, commenting “we need medical clinics like ‘Apple Tree Clinic.’ Brockville has nothing and it’s a disgrace.” 

However, many Brockville residents see this development as a positive step toward a better future for their city. Whit Prophet commented on the thread: “I have always maintained that recreation, like education, is an investment not an expense!”  

Local resident and soccer player Carlos Coburn spoke to the Brockvilleist and said “the dome could be great for local youth soccer programs competing against teams from larger cities like Ottawa and Kingston, who have access to similar facilities.”

But there is still a lot of work to be done.

At the Oct. 24 meeting, Mayor Wren cautioned that “we don’t truly know what the city’s contribution is going to be to relocate this field, and I think that’s an important question that we need answered before we make a final commitment.”

City staff confirmed that following their discussions with the group, council will be presented with a more fulsome account of details such as costs and potential locations in order to make a final decision.

“There’s more information we need before giving it a final blessing, I think,” Wren said.

Sports dome information

According to the Sports Dome Group, the primary sport played would be soccer, with recurring schedules running in tandem for youth, children, collegiate and adult programs. In their community benefit statement, the group acknowledges the current limitations on sports teams and outdoor physical activity due to the long winter months. The dome would be a climate-controlled facility, making it operational throughout all seasons. The group’s statement clarifies that the dome “will be a financially accessible location for youth and adults to remain active during all four Canadian weather seasons.” 

Among their various missions for the sports dome, the group intends to eliminate some financial barriers that many families across Canada face when it comes to partaking in recreational sports. For example, they hope their new facility “will provide organized sports activities for a portion of the Brockville population who do not possess the financial resources or desire to participate in hockey.” Hockey is one of the more expensive and dangerous sports to play, and according to Canada Soccer’s Annual Report, “soccer has one of the highest participation rates among team sports in the country.” 

In terms of the effect on the Brockville community as a whole, the Sports Dome Group estimates the dome fields to generate more than 400,000 annual visitors to Brockville. In addition to the regularly scheduled sports programs for local teams, the group is aiming to host several more extensive tournaments and workshops, bringing in teams and patrons from other cities. The Sports Dome Group surmises that “the duration of the events will require participants and those accompanying them to seek overnight accommodations and multiple meals.”

These large-scale tournaments and workshops may greatly contribute to the overall tourism economy and the success of some local businesses in Brockville. The group’s mission statement reiterates that “additional community assets such as the Sports Dome increase the area’s attractiveness as a place to live, work and play.” 

Brockvilleist will continue to follow this story as new developments emerge. 

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