Athletic park opens to public

The builders of an athletics park at Lacombe are looking forward to further milestones after holding its grand opening last weekend.

The builders of an athletics park at Lacombe are looking forward to further milestones after holding its grand opening last weekend.

The $4.4-million park was officially opened on Saturday in front of hundreds of spectators and athletes.

Organizers also announced that MEGlobal, the title sponsor, had renewed its commitment through to Dec. 31, 2020, bringing its total commitment to $500,000. It had originally committed $250,000.

Rocco Schurink, MEGlobal’s vice-president of operations, said the company looks forward to many years of sport, entertainment and excitement in Lacombe at MEGlobal Athletic Park.

Darren Gagnon, fundraising and marketing chair for the Lacombe Athletic Park Association, said that MEGlobal’s first amount of money was used for capital expenses.

The fieldhouse was built, the turf was installed, and the bleachers and the lights were put in.

The additional donation will become part of the park’s annual operating budget. It’s paid over six years, said Gagnon.

“About six years ago, there was a dream to build a building with some change rooms and then it was a bigger building with change rooms, concession, public washrooms, storage, viewing towers and a media centre,” said Gagnon. “And then we added bleachers and lights.”

The artificial turf was installed this spring.

The final phase is to install a running track, hopefully next year or the year after.

More than half of the project’s money, or about $2.5 million, was gathered through fundraising and corporate sponsorship.

“We’re still fundraising for operations of it,” said Gagnon.

Lacombe County provided $700,000. The association also received provincial and federal grants.

The City of Lacombe provided administrative and planning support, and donated $375,000, plus $100,000 work in kind.

Gagnon said this park is exciting for all of Central Alberta.

Last weekend, the association hosted soccer games including those with the Red Deer College Queens and rugby games involving the Red Deer Titans. The Central Alberta Buccaneers football team relocated there from Red Deer.

The park is located at 5644 56th St., next to École Secondaire Lacombe Composite High School.

Wolf Creek School Division leased the land to the City of Lacombe, and in turn it subleased the land to the parks association.

“We’re operating the facility with about a $150,000 to $175,000 budget a year,” said Gagnon.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

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