The City of Nanaimo has determined that NDSS Community Field is the best location for a mid-size stadium and will begin work on stakeholder engagement and a phased plan for improvements to the venue. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Nanaimo to look at turning high school field into mid-size sports stadium

Parks and rec will begin stakeholder engagement and begin work on a phased plan for improvements

The city has determined that NDSS field is the best spot for a mid-size stadium in Nanaimo.

City council, at a meeting last week, received a draft stadium development report recommending the artificial-turf NDSS Community Field as a better option for a mid-size stadium than Caledonia Park or the Gyro Youth Sports Fields at Beban Park.

The consultant, Doug Wournell, said Caledonia Park is too small for a medium-size stadium. Beban Park could accommodate such a facility, he said, but he recommended NDSS because it’s adjacent to Serauxmen Stadium and Rotary Bowl stadium.

“Money that goes into NDSS ends up enhancing two other facilities and that’s what gives this site, probably, the edge over the other two sites,” said Wournell.

Richard Harding, the city’s general manager of parks and rec, said NDSS field needs additional amenities – such as washrooms, changerooms and a food services area – before it will be appropriate for hosting ticketed sporting events.

“Everything within the fence line … is 100-per cent ready for any event…” he said. “Everything within the lines, you’re not going to find a better field to put on any sporting event right now.”

The field can accommodate Canadian football, high school football, rugby, soccer, field lacrosse and more, and has seating for 400 spectators.

Wournell said a city Nanaimo’s size would normally have a medium-sized stadium and said the NDSS Community Field location could accommodate thousands of spectators.

City council was not asked to approve any concept designs or budget any money. Harding said there will need to be discussions with Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools and other stakeholders about next steps and said he expects to bring forward a phased improvement plan.

“Incremental pieces over time will create your centre, but it doesn’t have to be done all at once,” Wournell said.

Coun. Ian Thorpe said he’s very much in favour of expanding and enhancing Nanaimo’s sports facilities and suggested the Third Street sports zone is the right place for a mid-size stadium.

“We’re talking really long-term here, we’re looking to the future as Nanaimo grows,” he said.

Coun. Don Bonner asked about parking and Wournell said current parking is sufficient as cities no longer tend to surround stadiums with a sea of asphalt.

“We don’t do that anymore because it’s not socially sustainable,” he said. “We want to look at transit and shuttle and things like that.”

In the past, the city had considered Rotary Bowl stadium as an option for a mid-size stadium, but Harding said construction of NDSS Community Field “changed our thinking on that” as Rotary Bowl would require a “major rebuild” to make it suitable for hosting football and soccer.

Harding told councillors that long-term, increased usage of NDSS Community Field is projected to create the need for another new artificial-turf surface in Nanaimo and said the Beban Park Gyro Youth Sports Fields and Harewood Centennial Park are two locations that could work.

READ ALSO: Artificial turf field officially dedicated in Nanaimo

READ ALSO: First-ever game at ‘best field’ in B.C. is a success

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