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New sports facility gains ground

Katherine DeClerq | Fulcrum Staff

WHEN STUDENTS RETURN to school after their summer break, they will find a new sports stadium sitting at Lees campus. The University of Ottawa Board of Governors has approved Sports Services’ proposal for the construction of a new facility after Frank Clair Stadium in Lansdowne was officially torn down in November.

“The delivery date for the facility is Aug. 15, 2012,” explained Luc Gélineau, director of Sports Services. “That will be very challenging.”

The facility, which will have a seating capacity of 3,700, features a new artificial field and lights for summer, spring, and fall, as well as a dome that would cover the field and bleachers.

“For the university and the student population, the biggest asset is that the facility will be managed all year-round, so it’s covered with a dome,” said Gélineau. “Right now, the facility we have at King Edward—Matt Anthony Field—we only could use it until the end of November.”

Sports Servces is aiming to have the stadium finished in time for the football season, but Gélineau explained he hopes to continue expanding the stadium throughout the year to add offices and other features.

“The service area for next September will be quite minimal, because we have to make some adjustments to the Block A of the Lees campus. It’s the portion of the campus that is the least occupied by classrooms so the impact is not significant, but still, to make the modifications it’ll take a bit longer.”

The facility itself will host intramural and recreation programs, which tend to practice and compete year-round. It will also allow the University of Ottawa to accommodate national championships, such as a Canadian Interuniversity Sports tournament.

Gélineau is excited to get the project underway, as he hopes it will bring more students to the stands.

“I’m convinced it will [bring more fans in],” he said. “First of all, football is the activity that students appreciate the most, but hosting an event at Lansdowne has not been very easy for the last five or six years. Sometimes the score clock would not work and sometimes the speaker was not working.

“So here, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, students can just walk to the facility. And another advantage is that this facility is right in front of Lees station on the transitway, so it is very accessible.”

The $7.9 million it will take to create the new sports facility is being dished out by Sports Services in partnership with the City of Ottawa, so that community groups can use the stadium during off-seasons.