Making the Rotary Bowl into a multi-use facility would cost millions.
Encouraging wider usage of the Rotary Bowl, behind Nanaimo District Secondary School, has been on the radar for school trustees for several years. The district owns the property and the Nanaimo Track and Field Club is the primary user.
The district, the City of Nanaimo and Vancouver Island University agreed last January to provide $45,000 toward the cost of a feasibility study, prepared by Yates, Thorn and Associates Inc. and released last week, to outline all the renovations and partnerships needed to make a multi-use facility a reality.
The Rotary Bowl is currently not suitable for football or soccer events, and while it is suitable for track and field training and competitions up to a certain level, improvements would be needed if the district wanted to host a Canada Games, Olympic trials or international track event there, the report states.
Certain upgrades are also needed to maintain existing facilities.
The report estimates it would cost about $200,000 for improvements needed to host high-level track and field events and about $13.3 million if the facility were intended for field sports as well as track and field events.
The second option would include a new synthetic turf infield, a new grandstand, improvements to track and field facilities and a second synthetic turf field on the NDSS play field to allow for football, rugby and soccer tournaments to be hosted at Rotary Bowl.
That would provide a venue for VIU to expand its recreation and sport offerings and facilities, the report notes.
The school district’s business committee is recommending the study be used as a resource document for the long-term redevelopment of the Rotary Bowl and that staff draft a joint-use agreement to include the district, city, VIU and the track and field club.
Trustee Jamie Brennan, a member of the facilities planning committee, said there’s no appetite among members of the joint use committee – the district, the university, the city and the track and field club – to spend the kind of money called for in option 2.
“The group will continue to meet and consider expanding the use of the Rotary Bowl, but it’s not going to happen any time soon,” he said. “In our view it’s unaffordable.”
Perhaps one group will come up with a more economically feasible plan to expand usage of the facility, Brennan added.
Ric Kelm, VIU’s executive director of infrastructure and ancillary services, said the university is interested in a joint-use agreement, but does not have much additional funding to put toward a huge renovation project.
The school board discussed the business committee’s recommendations at a meeting Wednesday after press time.