It’ll be standing room only everywhere when West Kelowna’s new soccer dome opens to the public next month.
No chairs of any type, including lawn chairs, will be permitted inside the $4.1-million inflatable structure, which can also accommodate baseball and football.
“There’s a whole bunch of different designs of lawn chairs out there, some of which have pointy spikes on the bottom. We don’t want holes going through our field surface,” project co-ordinator Mark Roberts told council on Tuesday.
Also to be banned are all food and drinks, other than water. If food or beverages get spilled on the turf, that would make cleanup difficult and costly, council heard.
While praising the overall project as a boon for the community, offering the chance for people to play a variety of sports throughout the year, councillors were somewhat concerned about the no-chair rule. They noted most parents bring along chairs when they watch their kids play soccer.
“The sides of the fields are lined with parents in lawn chairs,” said Coun. Doug Findlater, who encouraged staff to try to find some way of accommodating parents who want to sit when watching games.
“I think we should find a way to be as welcoming to as many people as possible,” Findlater said. “It’s a social time to go and watch your kids.”
Coun. Stephen Johnston said he understood the rationale for the no-chair rule, but predicted some parents would find the restriction unusual.
“We should at least have benches at the ends of the field,” Johnston said. “(Otherwise) parents will be just awkwardly standing around, not knowing what to do with themselves. People won’t want to get down on the ground.”
A rule against chairs is common at other inflatable domes, council heard. But down the road, Coun. Carol Zanon suggested, the city could look at providing parents with chairs that wouldn’t damage the turf.
There was also support among council for trying to find a company interested in having its name applied to the new dome, next to Rose Valley Mar Jok Elementary School, in exchange for a sponsorship payment to the city.
The artificial pitch is two-thirds the size of a regulation soccer field. It can also be divided into three smaller playing areas to accommodate younger players.
First bookings at the new dome are set for Nov. 1. A formal grand opening is tentatively set for Nov. 16.
“It’s definitely a good-news story, after a long time,” said Coun. Rick de Jong, a reference to the building delays and steady cost increases that have been associated with the project. One price increase came about because city staff didn’t initially realize the project would need washrooms that conform to the B.C. Building Code.