Sports training centre takes important step

Organizers are keeping the ball in play on an ambitious plan to develop a sports training centre in Sundre featuring Olympic-sized ice surfaces and indoor soccer pitches.

Organizers are keeping the ball in play on an ambitious plan to develop a sports training centre in Sundre featuring Olympic-sized ice surfaces and indoor soccer pitches.

A meeting with local sports and community groups was held on Saturday to get input on what sort of facility they feel would be a good fit for Central Alberta. It was hosted by the local society formed to pursue the facility, which could cost $45 million to $65 million by some early rough estimates.

Mike Beukeboom, a local businessman who has been actively promoting the fitness centre, was encouraged by what he has heard so far.

“It was a good first step for the community,” he said. “We got a really good sense that we’re looking at strong synergies amongst all the groups in town.”

The Sundre Fitness Development Centre would be designed to put the community on the map as a go-to destination for serious and recreational athletes and their teams. Besides arenas and soccer pitches, the facility could include running tracks, lacrosse boxes, multi-use, weight and training rooms, accommodations and food services.

Fitness Centre Society president Les Swelin sees the work underway now as a “communication exercise.

“In my view, we have to have a very, very good understanding in the community of what’s going on before we can proceed.”

Large projects like this typically start off slowly and the job of building and maintaining momentum will come later. “I’m not really too worried about momentum at this point.”

The society is meeting with Mountain View County next week and the Town of Sundre the following week to discuss the fitness centre.

Further public meetings will likely be held by the end of April, he said.

Beukeboom said project backers would pursue federal and provincial funding to get the facility off the ground. It would not be built all at once, but developed in phases over many years and is expected to generate millions in direct and spinoff revenues.

One of the next steps is for the society is to develop a business plan. Crazy Canuck skiing legend Jungle Jim Hunter is expected to be contracted to produce the plan.

Hunter, who is a Calgary-based coach and motivational speaker who runs Sport Management Systems, has actively promoted the fitness centre concept in past presentations in Sundre. Hunter has said Sundre’s central location and proximity to major transportation routes is an advantage.

pcowley@www.reddeeradvocate.com

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