By Zachary Flynn
NAIT’s first four home games have now been moved to Strathcona Athletic Park in Sherwood Park, east of Edmonton. The move is due to safety concerns surrounding the deteriorating NAIT field.
The summer weather and seeding issues were a couple of the factors that led to dips in the playing surface and sodding issues. Work was being done on the field to have it ready for the beginning of August, and then for the beginning of September, but leading up to the Ooks’ home opener, NAIT determined the field wasn’t safe to play on.
“It just wasn’t safe and we didn’t want to put any student-athletes at harm,” said Jordan Richey, Manager of Athletics at NAIT. “At this high level of competition with these athletes running as fast as they are, we would hate to be the reason why someone got injured.”
The ACAC soccer season runs alongside high school and collegiate football seasons, so finding a field that was both available and met the requirements of the Ooks was challenging.
“To find a field that we could play at with stands, electricity and capable of webcasting our games, we were really limited in options there,” said Richey. “It’s not the perfect situation but our staff have done a great job of securing a field. It’s very difficult to secure a field on short notice in the middle of football season.”
This move affected 4 of NAIT’s 6 home games this season. The final two home games in October were scheduled to be played at Clareview Field and Emerald Hills respectively.
“We found in the last few years we were cancelling our last few games and moving to a different field anyway because we’d have snow or weather conditions deteriorating the field quickly so this year we were proactive and decided to move the final two games to turf fields where you can have snow removal and the last game will be played at Emerald Hills as a test game for our ACAC championships.”
Richey said that they looked at booking fields through the City of Edmonton, but the high demand that comes with high school football, the Edmonton Eskimos and FC Edmonton’s fall season made it tough to secure a regular field.