Football and soccer should be returning to the Woodlawn Athletic Park in 2013.
The athletic park's Dana Quewezance Memorial Field, concession building and locker rooms, which are located in the east-central area of the Woodlawn Regional Park, sustained significant damage when the Souris River flooded its banks last year.
The Estevan Comprehensive School Elecs football team, and the three teams from Penta Completions Estevan Minor Football (EMF), have been forced to play their home games at the Estevan Comprehensive School the last two seasons.
Youth and adult soccer teams have also been forced to use other fields in the city.
EMF president Steve McLellan said a three-phase restoration project has been finalized for the athletic park. The first phase is to clean up the field, install irrigation and return the field and its buildings to an operational state – a process that is already underway.
Sod has already been applied. It was more expensive to apply sod than seed, EMF past-president Brian Senchuk said, but sod will allow them to use the field next year. They would have been forced to wait until 2014 or 2015 if they would have used seed.
“The exterior of the grounds will be seeded, and hopefully will be ready (for 2013),” said Senchuk. “There's not as much traction (as the playing field).”
They’re also working on the restoration for their concession and their locker room.
“With contributions from Woodlawn park, the Provincial Disaster Assistance (Program) and, ourselves, we’re going ahead with the sod and the seeding,” said McLellan.
Money received when the Kraft Celebration Tour visited Estevan last year has also been directed to the project.
The total cost of the field restoration is $125,000, and the buildings will cost $25,000. They have $91,000 already committed for the field, and $20,000 for the buildings, leaving them with a funding shortfall of $39,000.
The Woodlawn Regional Park directed $100,000 of the money it received from the Provincial Disaster Assistance Program towards the rebuild of the athletic park.
Phase 2 will involve further developments to the lighting, spectator seating, fencing and parking lot at the complex, McLellan said. A picnic area, a playground and a score clock would also be installed. The projected cost is $330,000, but they have to raise about $126,000.
“We do have some committed funds towards that through grants through the Saskatchewan Roughriders … and from different organizations that we’ve been able to approach,” said McLellan.
The third phase would involve the construction of a running track and track and field facilities, so that the Woodlawn Athletic Park and Estevan could host provincial events, such as the 2016 Saskatchewan Summer Games. The estimated cost of Phase 3 would be $650,000; so far they only have $5,000 committed.
McLellan said they plan to raise the money through fundraising and grants. They’re also looking to sell naming rights for the visitor and home change rooms, the picnic area, the football goal posts, the spotter's booth, three fencing sections and the entire athletic complex.
The rebuilding effort is “bitter sweet,” Senchuk said. It brings back memories of the fundraising and construction work that was done a few years ago to make the field capable of hosting football games. But there is a sense of frustration that they have to do it again.
Senchuk said this isn’t just about football, it’s about soccer and other summer sports. More than 200 minor soccer, 100 adult soccer and 60 high school soccer players will use the venue each year.
And if they're able to build a track, they could make the athletic park an even bigger asset for the community, and attract more individuals.