Outdoor sports cancelled until June in Edmonton, leagues remain optimistic
EDMONTON -- Outdoor sports fields in Edmonton will not open to leagues until at least the end of May because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city confirmed Thursday, but some organizers are hopeful their seasons can still be salvaged.
The city announced bookings for all outdoor sports fields including those used for baseball and soccer will be cancelled up to May 31. League organizers say even after that, it remains uncertain as to when they might be able to play again.
"The most frustrating thing is we don’t have a start date. If we had a start date, like middle of June, we’d have somewhere we can work back from, but there’s so much unknown we’re just taking it day-by-day," said Antony Bent, the general manager of the Edmonton Soccer Dome.
The new facility is home to more than soccer. Cricket, rugby and lacrosse players also use the site.
But for now, it remains empty at the worst possible time, Bent said.
"We’ve had two or three years of planning that went into building this incredible facility. We only opened a year-and-a-half ago, so to have us close down for months at a time is financially a bit of a hit for us."
Even though there's no end in sight to the widespread closures of recreational fields and facilities, the head of Alberta Soccer says leagues are still preparing for a possible season.
"Training coaches, training referees, getting those people ready," said Shaun Lowther. "We have managed to do that online."
Lowther says he's getting updates from officials every two weeks and Alberta Soccer is preparing for a number of different scenarios. The priority, he says, is getting players on the pitch.
"We're starting to plan what's going to happen if the season starts this date, that date, and have those plans in place to have a quick start to the season," he said. "Nothing is off the table."
If the summer season is forced to run late, so be it, Bent said.
"Hopefully for the sake of everyone and the game and everyone's mental health, hopefully we're back on the field at some point this summer."
Outdoor sports areas including soccer field, basketball courts and baseball diamonds remain open to the public, so long as physical distancing requirements are being practiced, the city said.
With a report from CTV News Edmonton's Nicole Weisberg.