Indoor soccer field pitched
Niagara Falls Soccer Club presents plan at City Hall
Author: Niagara This Week
Forget hockey - the beautiful game of "footy" is quickly becoming the most popular sport in the city.
That's at least according to the Niagara Falls Soccer Club, whose membership has grown from 650 to 1,800 players over the past four years, and could rise even higher this season.
"We turned away 32 teams last year due to a lack of field space", said President Tim Chamberlain.
"It's the most affordable and fastest growing sport in Canada, especially with the economy the way it is".
Chamberlain and Vice President Nick Montanaro were at City Hall on Monday evening to unveil plans for a new indoor training facility on Swayze Drive.
The NFSC has already purchased a plot of land for the proposed $3.5 million training and education complex, and is eager to take the next step in the developmental stage. "We could definitely use some support, but if there's no money available, we understand" said Chamberlain.
The league president doesn't want to burden taxpayers, but appealed to council on Monday for any available finances.
Montanaro noted that a 50/50 split with the city would be "ideal" but the duo are open to any number of cost-sharing strategies proposed by staff - including help with taxes and development fees.
On a broad level, the club simply wants to keep its top-flite players in Niagara Falls year-round, rather than lose them to neighbouring communities.
"My job is to get as many kids as possible playing the game" said Chamberlain. "We need an indoor facility for elite training".
The club currently runs its fall and winter program at the 48,000 square-foot Niagara Falls Sportsplex, but a lack of available space and rising fees are forcing many teams to practice elsewhere.
The brand-new Players Paradise Sports Complex in Stoney Creek is becoming more of a regional draw, with soccer coaches from Saltfleet District High School in Hamilton offering elite year-round training.
Vice President Tony Falasca said most of his players are from Stoney Creek, but a few are starting to trickle in from Niagara.
The NFSC wants to change all of that with their new facility, and offer advanced training in all walks of life for local players.
"We want to have free tutoring available so the kids don't fall behind in their studies" said Chamberlain.
League executives are currently in talks with the District School Board of Niagara, and want to offer free lessons from university teaching assistants on the second floor of the building.
Coun. Wayne Thomson likes the project, but said council can offer "nothing specific" until more details emerge. He wants senior staff to explore the matter, and report back with more information.
The 51-year-old club has a lengthy history of community involvement, including a recent $2,500 donation to the Mitchelson Park splashpad, and a $2,000 donation to Project SHARE.
Chamberlain is hoping his long-standing partnership with the city will help make the complex a reality.