By Joshua Parry
Orillia Bureau Chief
Most Orillia Lakehead students have either seen or used the sporting complex just down the road from the university.
The Rotary Place offers a dual-arena complex along with dual sporting fields, three tennis courts, and a playground. Surely this complex has everything but a dome for year-long field sports.
Business partners Kelly Shelswell and Melissa McKee have proposed the construction of a dome over the turf field.
The two hope to provide Orillia with a facility that allows for premier tournaments in lacrosse, soccer, football, and rugby, not to mention the Lakehead intramural ultimate Frisbee cup. The business partners have not ruled out footing the building cost to secure a complex for the Ladies Soccer League.
A dome this size would cost $500,000. It was suggested to Lakehead to become a natural partner in the building of the dome, but LU is questioning the position.
Lakehead is in close proximity to the complex and students use the sporting field weekly. However, is a complex like this really in the budget for LU when it can no longer build the buildings this campus had planned for itself (like the science building that was denied last year)? Granted the science building was not solely Lakehead’s responsibility; the liberal premier denied the construction two year ago.
Orillia has three high schools that are filled with sporting leagues. Lakehead relies on public schools with inadequate facilities for a university’s demand. The development of an indoor sporting complex would be able to fill its time slots very quickly
There is clear demand for the complex in Orillia. Sadly, Lakehead is not able to afford the cost of a complex in a city where the demand for these facilities is so large. If Lakehead wants to keep its playtime in the closest complex, they may just have to cough out some money in a partnership if they want to play anything in this city.
Nonetheless, perhaps it’s the best interest for the Lakehead in Orillia is to leave the turf at Rotary Place not domed. Let Shelswell and McKee build a business on land that is not currently occupied by Lakehead soccer and ultimate Frisbee teams. The more sporting complexes in Orillia, the better the situation gets for Lakehead, thus driving the demand and cost down.