Athletic park celebrates official opening 0
Cayley Dobie/Lacombe Globe - From left, Lacombe Athletic Park Association (LAPA) president Don Gustafson and fundraising and marketing chair, Darren Gagnon, thank everyone for attending the official opening of the MEGlobal Athletic Park.
It's official, after almost six years of fundraising and volunteer work, renovations to the MEGlobal Athletic Park are complete, giving athletes in Lacombe, and surrounding areas, a new facility to practice and compete.
"What you see here in front of you is the fruition of people cooperating," said Fred Knip, former Lacombe Athletic Park Association (LAPA) president.
And what visitors saw on opening day Aug. 25, was a brand new turf field, game clock and field house, all paid for through donations and fundraising by the LAPA. After completing the installation of the new field in June, the park has been used by a variety local sports teams including the Central Alberta Buccaneers football team.
Opening day saw two rugby games between the Red Deer Titans and their Okotoks rivals, as well as a local soccer game between the Lacombe Panthers and the Red Deer Renegades.
There was also a kids zone and a dunk tank, where mayor Steve Christie took a couple dives early in the morning.
But the real draw was the field itself and the hard work that went into making the dream of a few come to life.
"It's hard to put into words," said Don Gustafson, LAPA president. "It's absolutely amazing to see what's happened as a result of a few men and women."
While the second part of LAPA's Phase III remains unfinished, a running track that will surround the perimeter of the field, Gustafson is pleased to just sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labour.
"Our present fundraisers need a rest so we're going to have to back off from them and re-organize and then go after the next phase," he said.
But some of the fundraisers don't seem too tired just yet.
Canadian country music star and Lacombe native, Gord Bamford, presented a check for $25,000 on behalf of his foundation during the opening ceremonies.
And Bamford wasn't the only one pledging more support to the new facility and the LAPA. David Miller of MEGlobal was on hand to congratulate the group on behalf of the title sponsors. As part of that support, Miller announced MEGlobal would be extending their sponsorship of the athletic park until December 2020.
Bob Huff, school trustee for the Wolf Creek School Division, also attended the ceremonies. While MEGlobal is the title sponsor, it was the school division who originally leased the land to the LAPA for a 40-year agreement.
"This project is the result of a number of proactive and very youthful thinking people," said Huff. "Without their work, this project would certainly not be possible."
Along with Huff, Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Rod Fox, Reeve Ken Wigmore and Christie also congratulated the LAPA on their hard work and dedication to the project.
While the residents of Lacombe celebrate the completion of the field, the second part of the phase still requires about $1 million, said Gustafson. Fundraising for that is ongoing.