Long-cherished dream becomes real (8 photos)Friday, October 12, 2012 by: Darren Taylor
What began as a long-cherished dream is now a reality.
Sault Ste. Marie’s West End Community Centre (WECC) on Goulais Avenue, comprising two indoor soccer turfs and the new Korah Branch of the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library officially opened Thursday, following an official ribbon cutting ceremony.
Presiding over the 60-minute opening ceremony was Sault Ste. Marie Chief Administrative Officer Joe Fratesi.
Mayor Debbie Amaroso, who officially cut the ribbon, addressed the audience, which included pumped-up young male and female soccer players.
"With the bad weather we’ve had in the past 24 hours, you must be happy we have this indoor facility!” said Mayor Amaroso. “This venue will give us the edge to hold sporting events here in Sault Ste. Marie.”
Other luminaries in attendance for the official opening were Sault MPP David Orazietti,.SSM Public Library Board Chair Chris Rous, City Councillor and WECC Steering.Committee Chair Joe Krmpotich and Sault Amateur Soccer Association President Nelson Soares.
The manufacturer of the WECC playing surface—Fieldturf—is an indoor turf industry leader and has used the same material at WECC as in other venues, such as the home playing field of England’s famous Manchester United Football Club and 21 NFL stadiums.
SSM Public Library Board Chair Chris Rous was clearly delighted with Thursday’s official opening ceremony.
“I invite you all to our new library branch. This branch is like a Chapters bookstore,” Rous gushed.
In a nod to the private sector, Rous stated “the Essar Community Room at this centre can hold up to 75 people and we look forward to hosting many events here.”
“This is a unique facility in our community, nothing like it in Northern Ontario,” Fratesi said.
“The back wall is designed to be punched out in the future for additional soccer turf space,” Fratesi continued.
Sault Amateur Soccer Association President Nelson Soares said “this facility will service so many people for so many years.”
“It’s been a lot of work and a long journey.”
“This will allow youth soccer to be played 12 months of the year, not just eight as in the past,” Soares enthused.
“This will allow our soccer kids to progress at the same rate as soccer kids in Southern Ontario.”
“Clubs for men’s and women’s indoor soccer, and now other leagues, can now run all because of this new facility,” Soares said.
After Fratesi had mentioned the vision of ‘punching out’ the back wall of the facility in the future for a third soccer pitch, Soares said, in Reagan-esque fashion, “Mr. Fratesi, move that wall!”
Fratesi said cost of the WECC is approximately $11.5 million.
“The province, through the NOHFC, gave the Sault $1 million, and another $500,000 in a loan, another $5 million came from other money the province had given us," said Fratesi. "The other $5 million will be the City’s share.”
Phase 3 of the WECC is the new arena that will be built with a two-storey lobby, a 900-seat viewing area for the arena, a 300-seat viewing area for the soccer area we have now, along with possibly a restaurant and a meeting space, and that phase will allow for a second ice pad.
"All of this has been designed with that flexibility,” Fratesi said.
“We hope to have Phase 3 in the next two to five years, the ice pad and the second floor viewing areas…that’s for future councils to deal with,” he said. "This has also helped the library…it’s a ‘win-win’ for everbody."