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Lack of Lees winterization costs 300 hours of programming

The new field at Lees Avenue has stumbled onto another setback, as the dome that was supposed to winterize the pitch will not be installed until the middle of December.

The dome was originally scheduled to be constructed and operational by Nov. 15.  This may not seem like a significant delay, but without the on-time completion it is estimated that 300 hours of programming will be lost.

“This came as a surprise and it is a very disappointing turn of events,” said the U of O’s director of corporate communications, Patrick Charette.

According to a press release from the university, the dome production company needs more time to complete manufacturing. Charette was unable to comment on the cause of the delay or provide the company’s name.

The University hasn’t picked a way to resolve this issue but is considering multiple options to get programming back on track.

“We’re working with each client individually to find the solution that best meets their needs,” said Charette. “This means that we could winterize our sport fields (Minto Sports Complex) later than usual if weather permits and potentially use the gym at 200 Lees during weekends.”

The U of O’s Sports Services did not give further comment when contacted by the Fulcrum.

Charette is hopeful that the dome will be operational by early 2014.

“We are confident that once everything is in place, we will run our dome efficiently and put in place excellent programming for the years to come,” he said.

Third-year psychology student Jon-Rhys Evenchick said the delay was a real disappointment.

“I have been participating in intramural sports at the U of O for four years now, and this will be the third in a row where there has been a massive organizational failure,” he said. “I’m not upset per se, these things happen. It just seems to happen way too often here. I will definitely think twice before signing up and paying in advance again next year.”

This isn’t the first time issues have left the Lees field unusable. In November 2012, repeated construction delays and a breakdown in negotiations between the university, the City of Ottawa, and Coliseum, a private dome operator, caused the 2013 outdoor winter season to be cancelled. The grounds were also closed in May 2013, wiping out the entire 2013 summer season due to ripples in the turf.

Chris McDonald, a fourth-year bachelor of commerce student from Carleton University, said he also found the delay frustrating.

“The unreliability on U of O’s part to follow through on their actions has made me look to other dome facilities for winter use,” he said.