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Photos: $6.7M for new Port Coquitlam soccer hub could kick-up efforts to host World Cup events

If Vancouver is named a host city for 2026, some believe Gates Park could act as a practice or event site for the big tournament.

Construction of a new $11.4-million sports hub in Port Coquitlam’s Gates Park is set to begin later this year after the provincial government announced an investment of $6.7 million into the project on Friday (April 22).

The facility includes:

  • A state-of-the-art synthetic turf field built to international competition (FIFA) standards
  • A multi-use public plaza for community gathering and events
  • A road along the south side of the park from Reeve Street, leading to a parking lot with car and bus parking adjacent to the new hub
  • Field lighting, bleachers and covered team benches
  • A synthetic turf soccer warm-up area
  • An enhanced central pedestrian boulevard extending to Reeve Street

When it’s completed in 2023, the facility could help Vancouver’s case to become one of the host cities for the 2026 FIFA World Cup that’s been awarded to Canada, Mexico and the United States.

BC Soccer executive director Jason Elligott suggested Gates Park could be used to host tournament events and even practice and training sessions for visiting countries.

“Yeah, that’s always a dream, of course, to be able to support nations to come and train here,” he told the Tri-City News.

“Whether that happens or not, who knows? But you can’t ask for it unless you have the facilities to support it. So now that we know that we’re going to have that type of facility, we can start having those conversations.”

Olympic champion sees potential

The funding announcement for the facility came with star power.

Bev Priestman, the coach of the Canadian women’s national soccer team said she believes it’s a wonderful time for young athletes to get involved in the sport with the success of her side that won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games last summer and the recent qualification of the men’s team for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

“I think the talent’s getting greater and greater,” she said, crediting the success of Burnaby’s Christine Sinclair as laying the groundwork for the development of further successful players. “You’re going to have a facility like this, and it’s only going to help.”

Adult soccer and minor lacrosse also benefit

In addition to the provincial money, funding for the Gates Park facility includes $2.5 million each from the City of Port Coquitlam and BC Soccer as well as $500,000 from PoCo Euro-Rite FC.

Several of the local club’s players staged mini matches at Friday’s announcement.

The field will also be used by adult soccer teams as well as the PoCo Saints field lacrosse program.

BC Soccer’s Elligott said many cities championed the idea to become its newest hub, but none showed as much promise and drive than Port Coquitlam.

“We want progressive clubs, progressive-minded individuals and communities,” he said.

When the facility is completed, BC Soccer will be allotted 20 per cent of reserved times to host it programs, events and tournaments, while the other 80 per cent will go to community sports groups.

A two-storey building that integrates a covered grandstand will become BC Soccer’s new head office with space for meetings as well as classrooms for courses and clinics. The Soccer Hall of Fame of British Columbia will be located in the main foyer.

For more information on the Gates Park soccer hub, you can visit the City of Port Coquitlam's website.