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Local residents and sports groups will be all ears when a scaled-down design returns to council for further debate on the $90 million indoor pitch in September.

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The reduction in the plan was included in Strathcona County Council’s redefinition of key capital priorities in May. An updated plan was due to be sent back to the board at the July 19 meeting, but that was postponed until September 17.

The Strathcona Basketball Association (SBA) again reminded the board of the need for the facility during the July 12 priorities committee. The club is facing a shortage of available field time due to dwindling gymnasium rentals by Elk Island Public Schools and Elk Island Catholic Schools.

“It’s important to know that team sports turn young people into better people, and our goal is not only to teach kids to put the ball in the hole, but also to be better people,” said said Steve Flowers, president of the Strathcona County Basketball Association. (SBA), who also coaches several levels of basketball in Sherwood Park and Edmonton.

Strathcona Basketball Association provincial champion U-15 Steel A women's team.  The club recently informed the board of its difficulties in accessing local playing time and advocated for the basketball courts to be included in the revised indoor court plan.  Photo provided
Strathcona Basketball Association provincial champion U-15 Steel A women’s team. The club recently informed the board of its difficulties in accessing local playing time and advocated for the basketball courts to be included in the revised indoor court plan. Photo provided

The club also pointed to the lack of private facilities in the area and the administrative difficulties of booking county-owned facilities. Players currently travel to West Edmonton three times a week due to a lack of practice space.

The SBA has been around for more than three decades and was granted nonprofit status in 1997. By 2001, it had 400 young athletes playing basketball. Once the Raptors were crowned NBA champions in 2019, youth registrations reached nearly 800.

The pandemic has dampened this growth somewhat, an experience that has affected all local sports, however, for the 2021-2022 season, it had nearly 700 players between the ages of five and 18, which equates to approximately 58 teams (this which is supported by 116 volunteer coaches and assistants). These teams need a minimum of 1,600 hours on the pitch to train. More time on the hardwood is needed for competitions and tournaments.

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This is where the need for more home courts comes in and the real demand behind the new pitch, the club argued.

Coach Mike Annett, who recently received the Brian Anderson Memorial Coaching Award from the Edmonton Youth Basketball Association, said Strathcona County doesn’t have a history of club teams like other regions due to the low number of rental lots.

“I absolutely believe there is a talented basketball community in Sherwood Park and to further reach our potential we need more basketball facilities in the county,” he said.

“I wish we had more local indoor courts so we don’t have to leave Strathcona County to practice in Edmonton. Less travel time would mean more time for me to work on my basketball skills and enjoy my time with my friends who live in our community,” said Steele player Raya Plouffe.

“It would be really great to have courts where I could just work on my basketball and hone my skills for college and university,” said player Shaelyn Annett.

This season, SBA Steele achieved a number of impressive finishes: the U15 Girls A division was crowned Provincial Champions, the U15 Girls C division also won first place at the Provincial Championships, the U15 Boys B division won the gold at provincials and the U15 Girls B Division finished fourth at provincials.

“We are also very, very interested in the long game. The pavilion that was proposed was postponed, and then there were rumors that the pavilion would be adjusted to not include interior courtyard space. I can only beg you if this facility gets built, include those first five basketball courts that were supposed to be there,” Flowers told the board.

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A $90 million interior pavilion layout design.  A reduced concept will come back to the board in September.  Chart provided
A $90 million interior pavilion layout design. A reduced concept will come back to the board in September. Chart provided

In May, the board directed the administration to reduce the scope and budget by $90 million with additional reports coming back to the board to finalize the design in 2025/2026 and begin construction in 2027. Additionally, a sponsorship will be sought for the project. By spring, the $8 million had already been spent on design and land.

At the time, Ward County 8. Katie Berghofer attempted to move the schedule for the indoor sports complex two years forward, as it was originally scheduled to begin in 2024. According to the county’s recreation strategy, the facility has been identified as the top priority for a new installation. Berghofer argued that thousands of people will use the facility and that it is a facility that is needed now, not later. However, his motion failed, gaining support only from councilors Dave Anderson and Bill Tonita.

“Lack of space limits training time and playing time, and limits our ability to develop competitive teams in the county. I see all the challenges there,” Tonita noted during the July 12 meeting.

Earlier this year, council approved Buckingham Drive as the 18.3-acre location for the county’s next multi-purpose sports facility.

Under the current design, the proposed indoor court could include a full-size unplanked indoor turf with a walking and running track, multi-purpose court spaces, multi-purpose meeting and program rooms, and a huddle/lobby space. welcome. The court itself would be much larger than the indoor courts of Millennium Place. Combined, the indoor court and multi-purpose court space would be approximately 150,000 square feet.

The pavilion could accommodate a variety of indoor activities including, but not limited to; baseball, softball, slo-pitch, soccer, football, rugby, lacrosse, field and ball hockey, running, walking, basketball, volleyball, bocce, pickleball and more.

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