The finishing touches have been made and the ribbon cut on the brand new field house in Fort St. John's old Kid's Arena.
The field house was retrofitted in to the arena space to help accommodate more sporting groups in the community. With a budget of $400,000, the old rink boards were turned in to soccer boards topped with a tempered glass wall on the lobby side, heating units were installed and high quality artificial turf was layed
"In the old days, they built arenas and they built them for skating. This building now is an indoor facility for numerous sports. It covers a really wide spectrum," said City Councillor Larry Evans.
Evans explained that the field house was the result of a year and a half of discussions with the community to see the potential of what the kids arena could be after the Pomeroy Sport Centre was built and gave the city two new ice rinks.
"For the first six months or so we kicked back and forth what we should do with it, and then the idea of a field house came up with staff," said Evans.
"We didn't have to wreck walls, but we did have to erect all of this from a vision that we had a year and a half ago. And it wasn't done with millions of dollars. It was done under budget and so close to on time that it's wasn't even funny," said City Councillor Trevor Bolin.
The field house is intended for many uses including indoor soccer, lacrosse, rugby, fitness testing and even for gym time for School District 60.
"It opens up the doors to seven or eight different user groups that can use this throughout the year," said Bolin.
Evans pointed out the significance of having a facility like this because of the growth and demographics of the city.
"Soccer is as popular registration-wise as hockey and the kids were using the gyms when they could get them, but that's not a soccer field. This is a soccer field," said Evans. "That just adds to what we already have and makes the city more viable."
Evans also said that it will add to the already fantastic athlete development that is happening within the city.
"It will open up more of those avenues where some of our kids can go on to be stars.
Now, they have the chance."
Although the grand opening of the facility happened on Jan. 5, the facility has been in use by various sporting leagues and community groups since Nov. 14.
"It's been fantastic," said Bolin, noting that people were lined up and peeking in the windows even before the facility was quite opened. "The feedback has been unbelievable. And I think the big thing is that for all the people out there wondering what it is like, they need to come down here and check it out."
"They had a vision, and when they saw the finished product they were blown away. Just like we were," said Evans.
Stacey Miranda, Recreation Manager with the City of Fort St. John said that it has also been great to see the community pull together and share the field house.
"They love it. It seems like everyone has really been working together to make sure that they get the times that they need. "
The city will be monitoring the use of the field house and considering the needs for the future down the line.
"The way that Fort St John is going now, if they sustain that growth rate, I can see within five years that this place is filled to capacity with all the sports and maybe we're looking at something else," said Evans. "Things like this have a way of snow-balling."
Evans explained that future facilities wouldn't necessarily be run by the city, though.
"We would certainly help, but our long-range plan is to have facilities like this under some sports committee or something and they ran it."
"At the end of the day, all that mattered was the city getting together with user groups and citizens of Fort St. John to come in to the same end on a vision that we started together," said Bolin.