Fields of dreams proposed for Spectrum School grounds

Build it and the soccer, rugby football and lacrosse players will come. At least, that’s the plan.

A $3.5-million project, featuring two full-size turf fields of dreams with stands and a clubhouse with change and meeting rooms, is being envisioned for the Spectrum Community School fields in Saanich.

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The only thing missing is Kevin Costner. But there is Dom Butcher and Vince Greco.

“This is a well-rounded project that will be a tremendous community asset,” said proponent Butcher, a teacher, coach and the athletic director at Spectrum.

Partners or supporters include executive director Greco’s Vancouver Island Soccer League, along with the Canadian Paralympic soccer team, KidSport Greater Victoria, Songhees First Nation, Native Indian Football Association and T-Bird Soccer Group. School District 61’s contribution would be to lease the land for the project.

“It has the unanimous support of the trustees and terms are being worked out,” said Butcher.

The VISL has put up $250,000 and its membership has okayed the borrowing of an additional $250,000 toward the project. The venerable VISL, which played a major role in stocking Canada’s roster in its lone World Cup appearance in 1986, is celebrating its 125th anniversary.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us. We’ve been looking and planning the past five years. It’s all systems go as far as we are concerned,” said Greco, whose league has produced several pro and Canada-capped players over the years, while also providing opportunities for age-group masters players.

“We are also chatting with Saanich. A lot of organizations need turf time. This will help out so many different groups in so many areas, from school sports to First Nations soccer teams and tournaments to the national Para soccer team to youth soccer, field-lacrosse, rugby football, baseball and softball.”

The VISL has applied for a $2.2-million grant through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program Community, Culture and Recreation Stream. It is a joint federal and provincial funding program providing 65 per cent cost shares — 40 per cent from the federal level and 25 per cent from provincial — for approved projects. The projects selected in the current application cycle are expected to be announced in August. If successful, Butcher said he doesn’t see why a completion and opening in fall of 2022 isn’t feasible.

A community fundraising campaign has been launched at starproject.ca to make up the remainder of funding. Companies or individuals making tax-deductible donations of between $100 to $10,000 will have their name on a field or clubhouse sign, in accordance with the size of the donation, and a chance to win a Lionel Messi-signed Barcelona jersey, a Pacific FC package and other prizes.

“There are so many games cancelled in the fall and winter on grass fields because of our wet West Coast weather and this project, with its two full-size turf fields, would help alleviate that,” said Butcher, a former soccer goalkeeper, who won a national title in his five seasons for the University of Victoria Vikes and a VISL Jackson Cup with Bays United.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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