2018 a big year ahead for Gordie Howe Sports Complex
Written by Darren Zary, Saskatoon StarPhoenix
January 16, 2018
This is a big year for the Gordie Howe Sports Complex.
Make way for the final phase in the transformation of a multi-purpose sports park encompassing SMF Field, Joe Gallagher Field, Bob Van Impe Stadium, Gordie Howe Kinsmen Arena, Cairns Field, Leakos Field and the Clarence Downey Skating Oval, but soon to house much, much more.
Johnny Marciniuk, a director on the Friends of the Bowl Foundation board, says “2018 is huge for us,” adding that they are awaiting funding approval from the City of Saskatoon.
“Once that happens, you’re going to see a flurry of activity here and we’re proud that the community has supported this project and even more proud of all the contractors who are going to make this happen.”
A $42-million master plan would see the addition of a multi-sport operations centre to be used for baseball and track and field in the summer plus speed skating and cross-country skiing in the winter. There are also plans for an international-standard track and field complex with permanent seating of 1,850, expandable to 3,500, cross-country ski facilities, a multi-purpose plaza and ticket centre, an outdoor multi-purpose turf field, a 90,000-square-foot multi-purpose indoor athletic performance and training centre with indoor turf, batting and pitching cages, sports rehabilitation and meeting rooms.
Rounding out the expansion is a new Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame in the training centre, two turf practice fields for softball and baseball, outdoor batting cages, nordic ski racks and sports equipment storage.
“It is going to be the biggest and best sports facility in Canada,” says Friends of the Bowl chairperson Bryan Kosteroski.
“It’s really going to set the tone. It’s a really big project. It’s huge. This will be THE sports centre of Canada.”
A total of $21-million was raised for the completion of the first four phases, which included a new artificial turf football field, lighting, score clock and sound system for SMF Field, a 24,000-square foot clubhouse with four football dressing rooms, four softball dressing rooms, referee and officials room, a concession, public washrooms, equipment storage, meeting rooms, office and event space, as well as a plaza and ticket centre, plus the installation of 5,000 seats and nine boxes at SMF Field.
“Right now, we’re at $21-million,” says Kosteroski. “We’ve had some very excellent contributions. Our expectations are high but we’ve had great results from our past and we’ve had a lot of support and a lot of look-and-sees from people in Saskatchewan.”
Money raised so far includes $15-million from an anonymous group of donors.
‘That was a great start and a great confidence-builder for our group,” Kosteroski notes.
“Right now, we’re developing our campaign teams with the nine sporting organizations providing representatives. We’re probably going to have one of the biggest campaign teams that has been assembled in many years for sports organizations. We’re going to have over 100 people out there and we’re very excited about that. Right now, it’s the quiet portion of the campaign. Our loud portion of the campaign will be launched in April. You’re going to hear and see a lot more of this new brand and our story.”
Kosteroski says his group was floored when it first saw a promotional video for the project.
“Nobody said a word. The video says a lot. Look at the community support for this. It’s huge.”
Right now, Phase 4 is being completed. Nine press boxes are being added above the west side seating at SMF Field, which now has individual bucket seating for more than 5,000.
A new turf field will be built south of Gordie Howe Kinsmen Arena. North of that will be a new training centre facility with 70,000 square feet of space on the main floor and another 20,000 on a second floor. The main floor is to have a 50×80 turf-surface softball/baseball infield diamonds complete with retractable netting that can be used for football, soccer, lacrosse and other activities.
Two all-weather artificial turf infield diamonds will support the training centre.
The old Cairns Field grandstand building will be torn down and replaced with a multi-purpose operations centre, plaza and ticket office.
Work on the new track will be done between April 1 and October. It is expected to be ready for track and field in April 2019.
“We’ll be skating on it for the speed skating program prior to it being available for track and field use,” Marciniuk notes.
The training centre should be finished by Jan. 1, 2019.
“What we’ll do after that, to wrap up the whole deal, is pave our lots and beautify everything,” Marciniuk says. “In two years, we hope to have a world-class facility and I think we’re halfway there.”
GORDIE HOWE SPORTS COMPLEX TIMELINE
- October 2011 — Discussions begin on improving the Gordie Howe Bowl football facility.
- June 2012 — Friends of the Bowl Foundation officially formed.
- April 2, 2014 — Initial work-site preparation begins on installation of new field turf.
- September 6, 2014 — First game on new field turf on the newly-named SMF Field.
- September 2014 — Work site construction begins on the new Gordie Howe Sports Complex clubhouse.
- March 1, 2016 — New clubhouse completed and ready for use.
- September 2016 — Plaza and ticket sales centre completed.
- April 2017 — Site work for new SMF Field seating. East side seating completed in September 2017; west side to be completed by April 1, 2018.
- January 2018 — Site work being done for new multi-purpose field being built south of the Gordie Howe Kinsmen Arena and 90,000-square-foot training centre facility being built north of the arena, as well as two new artificial turf infield ball diamonds in support of the training centre. Nine press boxes being constructed for SMF Field.
- March 1, 2018 — Old Cairns Field grandstand to be torn down. Work to begin on new multi-sport operations centre, plaza and ticket office with completion in January 2019.
- April 1, 2018 — Construction of new track and field/skating oval to begin. Track to be completed by October and initially used for speedskating next winter.
- 2018 — Field 2 to be completed and artificial turf infields to be done by October.
- 2019 — Training Centre, operations centre, ticket office and plaza to be completed.
- Spring/summer, 2019 — Parking lots to paved and beautification.
BY THE NUMBERS
- $42 million — Overall budget for Gordie Howe Sports Complex master plan expansion project.
- 9 — Friends of the Bowl partners involved: the City of Saskatoon, Hub City Track and Field, Saskatoon Amateur Softball Association, Saskatoon Baseball Council, Saskatoon Football, Saskatoon Lions Speed Skating Club, Saskatoon Nordic Ski Club, Saskatoon Secondary Schools Athletic Directorate and Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame.
- 10 — Different sports to be played at the Gordie Howe Sports Complex: football (tackle, flag and touch), softball, baseball, speed skating, cross-country skiing, track and field, ultimate frisbee, hockey, box lacrosse and soccer.
- 45,000 — Anticipated minor, youth and adult-league athletes, coaches and officials from Saskatoon and surrounding communities who will use the Gordie Howe Sports Complex on an annual basis.
- 175,000-plus — Anticipated visitors, including players, coaches, volunteers and spectators, for the park on an annual basis.
- 25,000 — Participants for local, provincial, national and international tournaments, camps, championships and other events to be held at Gordie Howe Sports Complex.