Delta School District looking to play ball outside
The Delta School District is proposing to build two, $1 million covered artificial turf fields—without using education dollars.
Increased demand from minor sports associations in Delta, which hold practices in the school district's gyms during the fall and winter months, is driving the proposal, according to Delta Board of Education chair Dale Saip.
"If you look at the sports like fastball, lacrosse, soccer and all the teams that use our gymnasiums regularly for activity, there is quite a wear and tear on the facilities," said Saip. "They aren't built to house practice facilities for outdoor sports."
The covered artificial turf field would measure 132 feet wide by 225 feet long with a ceiling peak at 45 feet high. Other features include a translucent membrane roof for optimal sunlight, and dasher boards with a chain link mesh around the perimeter of the facility.
The school district looked at similar facilities in Penticton and Langley for inspiration.
Current plans call for one of the fields to be built adjacent to Delta Secondary School. Meanwhile, two high schools in North Delta are being eyed for the other facility—Delview and Burnsview.
Saip stressed the importance of creating new facilities geared towards youth sports.
"I think there is a real need given the activity levels that go on around kids' soccer and getting kids started into sports and programs," he said. "One of these facilities would have three mini soccer fields going crossways for three-on-three little kids' soccer and or practices."
Right now the school district is at the business plan stage of the game, which involves exploring corporate sponsorship. And while the facilities will be open to community groups, the Corporation of Delta has not been approached to financially support the project.
"At this point in time, no, I wouldn't expect them to," added Saip. "Nor would we ask them to at this point. It might make some sense down the road if we look at doing more of these [facilities]."
The community also shouldn't expect a corporate heavy hitter's name to be emblazoned on the side of the facilities.
"I don't think it would be named after a sponsor—it would be an extension of our school district," said Saip.
Still, he does consider the Bell Centre in the Surrey School District—a performing arts centre built adjacent to Sullivan Heights Secondary—a good model for sponsorship.
DSD deputy superintendent Garnet Ayres, who is spearheading the project, said the sports fields could create a steady revenue stream for the school district once they are paid off.
"You can put one team in a gym, but you could put three or four teams in this facility. So you multiply it like that you start to realize that there is some economies with a larger facility," said Ayres.
Currently, youth sports groups pay approximately $22 an hour for use of the school district's gyms, which, according to Ayres, are booked solid five nights a week during the school year.
If everything falls into place for the DSD, shovels could be in the ground by the fall, said Saip, who estimates the facilities would take about six weeks to construct.
"If all the stars align maybe it's a Christmas present for the community," he said, adding that a business plan still has to come before the Board of Education for approval.