Game day wasn’t all it could have been last week at Nanaimo’s Caledonia Park. The worst junior football facility in Canada, as some call it, squeezed two teams into a couple of cramped change-rooms and a tent. Electrical problems turned off the scoreclock.
Instead of cheering on their team, football fans this week are crying out. They want a stadium.
The Vancouver Island Raiders are a national-championship calibre club, easily Nanaimo’s second-highest-profile sports team. They deserve adequate facilities; it would be a bonus if they had the best.
It’s easy to picture a newly renovated Caledonia Park. Think Saturday night games under the lights, in balmy weather, with a grandstand full of fans, adequate changerooms, washrooms and a concession.
It’s easy to get carried away, too. So the scoreboard shorted out last Saturday. It doesn’t mean that the City of Nanaimo needs to build the biggest and best football stadium the league has ever seen. Raiders fans might be jealous of Victoria’s Bear Mountain Stadium, for example, and rightly so. Let’s not be blinded by jealousy, though. In a city our size, there are a limited number of big games that are going to fill the stands.
There are always umpteen projects for a city to prioritize. It wasn’t long ago city councillors were looking to scrimp and save any money they could to ease the burden on taxpayers. There are dams to tear down, or repair, or build, after all. Or if we’re dreaming big, a multiplex opens up a whole bunch more entertainment possibilities than a football stadium, albeit at 10 times the cost.
Both the Raiders and Nanaimo’s parks and rec department feel an urgency to improve the city’s primary football field.
Let’s get Caledonia Park up to standard, up to snuff. Any more than that? Let’s make sure, first, that we’re going to be able to make the most of it.