To dome, or not to dome?
That was one of the questions Airdrie City council considered on March 6, during an update on the status of the much-anticipated artificial turf field project at Ed Eggerer Athletic Park, along with an overview of the work ahead.
Previously, on Nov. 21, 2022, council unanimously agreed to provide financial backing and administrative support to get the ball rolling on the project, which was first spearheaded by the Airdrie Field Turf Project Society (AFTPS) in 2019.
“For several years, the City has been working with AFTPS to have an artificial turf field playing surface installed at Genesis Place,” read a council agenda report. “In 2021, Council approved a cost-sharing agreement for the construction of the field.”
Unfortunately, for several reasons, the field turf project did not progress as originally envisioned until last year, when council passed a motion directing administration to take the lead on the project.
The project aims to install a state-of-the-art artificial turf playing surface at Ed Eggerer Athletic Park. The society intends to convert the existing natural grass surface on the north side of Genesis Place Recreation Centre to artificial field turf.
“Based on Airdrie’s population growth projections and young demographics, it is certain that [the existing natural-grass field] will not meet the needs of the community and an outdoor synthetic field will be desperately desired,” stated the report.
Both Eugene Lund, manager of public works and parks operations, and Brad Anderson, manager of Genesis Place and Arenas, presented council with an update on the project, including suggesting the further exploration of an air-supported structure (AKA a dome) over top of Ed Eggerer Athletic Park.
A similar 'bubble' was installed over one of the football fields at Shouldice Athletic Park in northwest Calgary last fall.
“A seasonal air-supported dome and outdoor synthetic field combination would address both indoor and outdoor recreation needs while merging and saving capital dollars on what would have been two projects,” continued the report.
To assist with the assessment, the City is looking to secure the services of a contracted sport surface architect who can determine the feasibility of an air-supported “bubble” structure over the artificial turf field.
If the site conditions do not allow for an air-supported structure, council may be presented with alternative sites that would accommodate such a build to “satisfy the broader needs of the community without having to build separate sites at much higher price tag.”
The findings and recommendations of this assessment will be brought back to council at the next project update in the second quarter of the year.