The Lacombe Athletic Park Association (LAPA) presented their $4 million park expansion business plan to the City of Lacombe Council and their maximum possible funding request to the City came in at $1 million — $400,000 less than what was estimated by the City the previous week.
LAPA requested $1 million from both the City and Lacombe County, but is confident they will be able to secure provincial and federal grants in order to bring that number down.
Darren Gagnon, LAPA board member, said their volunteer organization has a long history of fiscal responsibility.
“Ideally, if we can get enough grants and do enough fundraising than this (City of Lacombe contribution) would be $0,” he said, adding that, through consultation with the County and City, they are confident they will check off all the boxes for potential grant funding.
The total $2 million contribution from the County and City coincides with a $2 million donation from MEGLobal announced earlier this year. The donation allows MEGlobal to carry on with the naming rights to the park for another 20 years, after they previously held the rights for the last 10.
“We are grateful to MEGlobal for doing this,” Gagnon said. “They have shown nothing more than community responsibility with this. They are doing this because they see this as a great project.”
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LAPA is hoping that construction on the proposed expansion of the fieldhouse will begin in Fall 2019 and construction of the new track facilities will start in Spring 2020. Securing funding — both private and public — is part of staying on that timeline.
“It is important for us to know for planning,” LAPA Board Chair Darren Berg said. “We are going ahead as if everything is going through and we are quite confident that we are going to get grants and funding. We have a lot of support in the community and from all of our partners.”
Berg says the LAPA board believes the expansion will be have a positive economic impact for the City and region.
“Not only is it supporting local athletes and schools — there is also a tangible economic benefit when athletes and families come in and use the park. We have seen that. The plan is to increase that,” he said.
Gagnon said the usage of the current park is double what they expected.
“Those people are stopping in convenience stores, stopping in Timmy’s drive-through, going to our restaurants, stopping in gas stations and shopping in the stores. Many of them are staying here multiple days — that puts people in the hotels as well,” he said.
Gagnon also said it is important to recognize that young athletes are able to use a premier facility inexpensively.
“There is between 400 to 600 local athletes that use the park. To rent that park in Red Deer, Lethbridge, Calgary or Edmonton requires fees that are substantially higher that what we charge here,” he said.
Berg said LAPA is excited to proceed with this project.
“Everyone is involved and with the help of our partners we have been successful for the last 10 years, along with the County, the City and private sponsorship. That is a recipe for success and we are continuing to use that,” he said.
The City will debate what their contribution will be at a future Council meeting.
LAPA’s full business plan with a break-down of capital and operating costs can be found in the Feb. 11th City of Lacombe Council agenda package.