This is another example of an investment into an area of the city that never saw these types of investments before.
A local soccer icon and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats want to turn the city's outdoor stadium into a year-round facility with the help of a bubble dome.
It would cost upwards of $3 million to bubble-wrap the turf at Tim Hortons Field each winter – but the city wouldn't have to pay a dime under the proposal, said John McGrane.
McGrane, a retired professional and Olympic soccer player, said Monday he didn't want to discuss proposal details before formally presenting to councillors in February.
But he confirmed a "private enterprise" that includes "lead investor" and Ticats owner Bob Young would cover all capital costs to install the bubble – and even put $100,000 annually toward a city turf replacement fund.
The group also proposes to reserve 500 hours of indoor field use between December and April for the city recreation department. That's a key promise for McGrane, who wrote in a letter to Mayor Fred Eisenberger he wants to help provide more athletic opportunities to disadvantaged youth.
"I, like so many children from the east end, grew up with very little money and resources but was given the opportunity to play soccer from an early age," he wrote, later adding a seasonal bubble "could only enhance the usage and opportunity for youth to compete in sport year round."
"The dome (would) enable our group to develop a soccer academy which is an integral part of our long-term strategy for growing soccer at all levels in Hamilton and our region," Young wrote.
Mayor Fred Eisenberger said he personally considers the proposal "absolutely brilliant," but added he doesn't want to "pre-judge" how councillors will respond to the idea.
He said the idea of making the outdoor field useable year-round was discussed long before the stadium was built, but added the city has not considered tackling the pricey project on its own.
"There's a strong element of community use, at no extra cost to (the city), that is very attractive," he said.
Hamilton has about a dozen indoor soccer fields operating privately at the moment. Tim Hortons Field has room for about five indoor soccer pitches. The proposed bubble would only cover the field of play, not the football stands.
Local soccer teams and leagues are always clamouring for more indoor space, said John Gibson, who heads the Hamilton and District Soccer Association.
"I know for my member clubs, they're always having difficulty booking enough time," he said. "But it's not just soccer. Football, lacrosse, rugby, they would all benefit."
Gibson added he's excited about the prospect of more space becoming available for the Pan Am-inspired ArcelorMittal Dofasco "Grassroots" soccer program for kids living in the stadium precinct.
"Giving those kids a place to play year-round would just be awesome," he said.
[url=http://www.thespec.com/news-story/6226923-soccer-icon-pitches-bubble-dome-for-tim-hortons-field/]http://www.thespec.com/news-story/62269 ... ons-field/[/url]