The City of Port Coquitlam is working with BC Soccer to bring a multi-million soccer hub to the city’s biggest park in the lead up to Canada hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup along with the U.S. and Mexico.
The $11.4-million project would include a new headquarters for BC Soccer, as well as a turf field and covered grandstand.
“We’re very excited to be able to announce this opportunity to the community. It would bring so many benefits to Port Coquitlam including access to a state-of-the-art sports field and amenities for kids and families, increased opportunities for our residents to stay active and healthy, and a new dynamic public space,” stated Mayor Brad West in a press release.
Situated on four hectares (10 acres) of land at Gates Park, the new soccer facility would include BC Soccer’s home showcase field, built to FIFA pitch standards, a covered grandstand and floodlights, along with dressing rooms and storage.
A two storey pitch-side building would also be constructed to house BC Soccer’s new head office with space for meetings, classrooms for courses and clinics, along with the Soccer Hall of Fame of British Columbia in the main foyer.
There would also be a viewing gallery for the main field.
The city has been working with the B.C. Soccer Association (B.C. Soccer), PoCo Euro-Rite FC (PoCo Soccer) and in cooperation with PoCo Sport Alliance, on the proposal.
Funding commitments include $2.5 million from the City of Port Coquitlam (from accumulated surplus funds) with B.C. Soccer able to match the amount based on membership support and PoCo Soccer contributing $500,000.
However, in order for the project to proceed, $6 million additional financial support will be required.
A preliminary design has been developed and the city is now seeking grant funding to move the project forward.
Some changes to Gates Park would be required to accommodate the soccer hub, including the replacement of the washroom facility at the west end of the park and conversion of the grass field at the far west end of the park to synthetic turf.
The addition of world-class playing and spectator facilities would also potentially open up new hosting opportunities for Port Coquitlam, such as lead-up events and festivals for the 2026 FIFA World Cup to be hosted by Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, according to the city.
BC Soccer has thrown its full support behind the project.
In a press release, Gayle Statton, president, and Carlos Grosso, first-vice president, stated that they are “excited” about the proposal to build a “dedicated BC Soccer home and soccer facility.”
“Aside from the many benefits for the community, we see this as a big step forward for not only the association but the soccer community in BC,” further added Jason Elligott, executive director for BC Soccer.
Elligott told the Tri-City News the group has been looking for a central facility “for a long time.”
“The challenge has been the location and finding a suitable partner that shares the same interests and wants.”
He said the group considered several potential sites but “Port Coquitlam was really keen. They brought a lot to the table, they’re doing a lot of development in their downtown, they’re trying to invest in it.”
The proximity of a world-class soccer hub close to downtown has also got the backing of the PoCo BIA.
In an emailed statement to the Tri-City News, executive director Jennifer McKinnon said she welcomed the project.
“Being the headquarters for BC Soccer will generate a consistent flow through of visitors from all over the province benefiting Port Coquitlam as a whole, but the walkability from Gates Park to the businesses in the downtown will generate more guests for the local shops while offering convenience to our visitors.”
PoCo Sport Alliance has been involved in the project from the beginning and executive director Ryan Clark said the soccer hub is the “next big phase” to turning Port Coquitlam into a “recreation and sporting hub” for the region.
He said the new facility would play a key role in developing not only players, but also officials and coaches, while also generating community pride for PoCo residents.
“When local residents come out to our facilities, they can be part of something special, their community pride raises, it opens their imaginations to achieve greatness.”
The process started with a conversation with BC Soccer’s Carlos Grosso, who is also the father of Canadian Olympian Julia Grosso.
Clark said Grosso indicated his association needed a home, and while the pandemic did slow down discussions, the proposal has been fleshed out, with everyone working on obtaining funding to bring it to fruition.
“We want to show we are all committed and working together. This is real,” Clark told the Tri-City News.
WHAT THE PROJECT ENTAILS
- A state-of-the-art synthetic turf field built to international competition (FIFA) standards
- A two-storey, 1,157-square-metre (about 12,500-square-foot) building which would primarily be B.C. Soccer’s new headquarters and would include PoCo Soccer office, storage, meetings space, public washrooms and other amenities
- 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 warmup area
- An enhanced central pedestrian boulevard extending to Reeve Street
Although it would be a joint facility, the proposed agreement would provide Port Coquitlam guaranteed access to the new turf field about 80 per cent of the time across the year, for use by local soccer groups.
The remainder would be dedicated to B.C. Soccer to support programming, education offerings, events and tournament activities.
“This project would be a wonderful complement to the investments we’ve made to sport and recreation — like the Port Coquitlam Community Centre — and offer even more opportunities for local sports groups to play year-round and for community gathering and events,” stated Coun. Steve Darling, council's designate for recreation matters.
“It would also further cement Gates Park’s role as a premier focal point for all outdoor sport in Port Coquitlam. We’re looking forward to the many and incredible benefits this project could bring to our community.”
- with files from Mario Bartel, Tri-City News