Nanaimo Timbermen bantams Cole Prontack, left, and Jordan Conroy juggle a lacrosse ball with peewee Gavin Gunderson at the opening of the covered lacrosse box at Harewood Centennial Park on Thursday afternoon. (CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin)

Multi-purpose sports court officially opens at Harewood Centennial Park

Lacrosse toss marks the opening of covered sports surface

Court is in session in Harewood following the grand opening of a covered multi-purpose court at Harewood Centennial Park.

The covered lacrosse box opened Thursday afternoon with a ceremonial lacrosse toss at the net by local city and sports officials followed up a practice session by the Timbermen midget girls’ lacrosse team.

Richard Harding, city director of parks, recreation and environment, said in his address to the gathering that the siting and building of the facility took nearly 10 years.

“We’re not done,” Harding said. “Everything you see now is just the first stage. We wanted to get this facility open before we got too long into the lacrosse season.”

Harding said other sports will be introduced as the project is finished and depending on the demand from the community.

The $3.23 million cost for the project includes upgrades to the park’s parking and playground areas. The lacrosse box features electronic scoreboards and it will be able to host tournament games.

Heather Campbell, president of the Harewood Neighbourhood Association, which advocated for creation of the facility, said it will have a “huge” impact on the community.

“It’s exciting,” she said. “All the meetings you attend, you think this is never going to happen and then they start building it and you walk by all the time and see it being built and then to opening day. Seeing the kids who often say we don’t get the floor space we need, so this will be a wonderful opportunity for Nanaimo as a whole and Harewood. To see people come in and have a great time and play sports and do other things that we have to offer in the park.”

Andy Reynolds, Nanaimo District Lacrosse Association president, said the covered lacrosse box gives the association added status as one of the premier lacrosse organizations on the Island. A covered facility allows teams a longer play season and more training time.

“We’re able to start a little bit earlier now,” Reynolds said. “Some associations already have covered boxes and they get to start right away in February. Mother Nature’s certainly not been kind to Nanaimo lacrosse in the last 10 years in Februarys and Marches. It gives us the opportunity to get on the floor, get sticks in hands and be able to start our evaluations and build our association to become real strong.”

The outdoor lacrosse box, originally built by the Lions Club in 1970 is also being rebuilt at the park next to the covered box and will be reopened in coming weeks.

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