The Bonnyville Amateur Football Association (BAFA) opened the new Walsh Field in style during the Scott MacDonald Memorial.
With the help of $2.1 million benefactor Raymond Scott, Bonnyville Voyageurs coach Dan Jubinville declared Walsh Field officially open on Saturday, Sept. 16.
After five-months of planning and construction, athletes in the Town of Bonnyville now have a professional-grade facility to play on.
“The new field is amazing. You can't say enough about a professional quality facility. It's just a way better and more consistent playing surface,” detailed Jubinville.
Inside an Olympic-quality running track, a total of 1.2 million-pounds of infill sits tightly-packed under the best artificial turf on the market.
The field, called FieldTurf Revolution 360, has recently become the primary choice of professional football teams across North America.
“This is the same field that the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks play on. The Saskatchewan Roughriders recently had this exact field installed in their new building,” said Bonnyville Bandits head coach Mickey Fagnan.
Even those who would usually prefer grass over turf were excited for the benefits of the new surface.
In the old facility, players would have to adjust to changing field conditions based on weather. The new field provides a sense of consistency that wouldn't be possible otherwise.
“I'm pretty old school. I like grass, but not in the middle of October. That's like asking the Pontiacs to play on a backyard rink in December. This is just a better surface. It's a huge benefit to both home and visiting teams,” detailed Larry Godziuk, head coach of the Bonnyville Voyageurs.
While the playing field and track are both useable, there's still work to be done to the surrounding grounds.
The plan is to have grandstands in place by the beginning of July 2018. When the entire facility is complete, Fagnan expects it to attract attention from across the province.
“We're going to get an influx of people from out of the area that will come here to experience a state of the art facility only seen in big cities. I think we're going to see foot traffic like you wouldn't believe,” Fagnan expressed.
In addition to the three football teams calling Walsh Field home, it's also expected to be used by the minor soccer and lacrosse community. The track itself, offers a unique opportunity, meeting all of the necessary requirements to host provincial events.
Once the project wraps-up, all three coaches expect Walsh Field to be a hotspot for not only football, but for all summer sports in Bonnyville.
“This is going to be a huge benefit to the community once the field starts getting used for other events. Whether that be track, soccer, or lacrosse. This is quite the facility, and we're lucky to have it,” said Godziuk.