Lacombe group wants $1M loan to finish rec project

A group that is developing an artificial turf sports field and a running track in Lacombe is looking for a $1-million loan guarantee to finish the project.

LACOMBE — A group that is developing an artificial turf sports field and a running track in Lacombe is looking for a $1-million loan guarantee to finish the project.

The Lacombe Athletic Park Association asked city council for the loan guarantee to cover the $750,000 needed to complete the MEGlobal Athletic Park and leave a $250,000 “safe net.” The loan would be paid off in nine years.

Lacombe County was approached for a similar loan guarantee, said Darren Gagnon, the association’s marketing and fundraising chair. The county wants the City of Lacombe to guarantee at least half of the required financing.

The association also requested that the city pay it an annual management fee and operating subsidy of $50,000 to run the park. City staff previously estimated the cost of operating the facility itself at $120,000 a year, not including required administration resources.

Help was also sought from the city to join the county in providing earthmoving equipment and staff to prepare the ground for the playing field. The city was also asked to provide landscaping in the municipally-owned park and provide labour to install fencing.

Council did not make a decision on the requests on Monday. The issue will come back to council next month.

Work on the $3.9-million athletic park began last year with the construction of a field house, concession, viewing tower, meeting facility, score clock, lighting and bleachers. Those first two phases cost $1.7 million.

Third phase of construction is expected to begin in November with the installation of artificial field turf and a regulation running track. Estimated to cost about $2.2 million, the park is expected to be finished by May or June.

About $1.5 million has been raised through commitments from the city, county and business community to provide about $870,000 in work-in-kind donations. The remainder will be covered through other donations, a capital fund and provincial grants.

A $360,000 rubber track covering could be completed at a later date depending on fundraising, said Gagnon.

Park boosters predict the facility will draw many more sporting events to the community and provide an economic boost. The artificial turf field, besides being safer for athletes, greatly increases the amount of time it can be used. It can even be swept clear of snow in the winter and used, unlike natural grass.

The facility will open to a wide variety of community groups and sports clubs. Lacombe Composite High School, Lacombe Minor Football Association, Lacombe Minor Soccer and the Central Alberta Buccaneers football team have been key parts of the fundraising and are considered preferred user groups that will pay subsidized user fees.

To generate revenue, the association plans to widely market the facility to other potential users such as the University of Calgary Dinos football team, University of Alberta’s track and field team, the Edmonton Eski

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