Lack of fields hurting T.O.'s soccer communities
Published Tuesday, April 3, 2007 7:17PM EDT
As the city eagerly awaits the start of the inaugural Toronto FC soccer season, children who are inspired to join a league may be sitting on the sidelines due to a shortage of fields.
"Because this year in soccer is so huge, it's actually going to exasperate the problem because there's going to be even more interest in the game," said Steve Ralphs, president of the Toronto Soccer Association.
The City of Toronto admits it is short about 90 sports fields, which could serve more than 41,000 players through various sports.
"We are in crisis mode in the sports community," said Rolston Miller, director of the Toronto Central Sport and Social Club.
"If you were to ask someone, 'Have there have been any major regional facilities built in the past 30 years for field sports, the answer would be no,'" Miller said.
Local soccer associations say they have to turn away thousands of players each summer because of the shortage.
The city's Parks and Recreation Department currently operates about 270 sports fields, which serves about 125,000 athletes.
There is no word on whether the city plans to build new facilities anytime soon.
Meanwhile, the Toronto FC, which joins Major League Soccer, plays its first game on Saturday against the Chivas USA in California. The club's first home game is April 28 against the Kansas City Wizards.
Major League Soccer has praised the FC's ownership and its fans for making the expansion team a success before the first game was played.
The team has sold out its 14,000 season-ticket seats.
With a report from CTV's Janice Golding