Construction on the Greater Saint John Field House is now underway.
Excavation and work on the site's foundation began earlier this week, while a sod-turning took place with local officials on Tuesday.
Once completed, the facility is expected to feature two indoor turf fields, a 200-metre indoor track, fitness rooms, multi-purpose areas, community spaces and outdoor trails.
Bill MacMackin, president of the Greater Saint John Field House project, said it's expected to take 12 weeks to prepare the building's foundation and complete work on a big pond for storm water drainage.
In the meantime, building plans are expected to be complete within the next few days, and it's hoped tenders for building work can go out in March.
After that, the steel frame is set to go up in July, and construction should be finished by the end of 2018, or early 2019.
Though completion of the project is still close to a year away, MacMackin said his group has already secured a couple track and field competitions for the new facility.
Having shovels in the ground puts the group in a stronger position to attract even more events, as event organizers generally want to see a construction schedule, he said.
"It's easy to talk about plans and even when you announce funding, but until you see some trucks roll and dirt move, it's really not real," he said.
"And I think that's what's made a lot of people stand up and say okay now we can really start to look ahead and start booking events."
They're now hoping to set a schedule for the next five years "that really demonstrates that it has the economic impact we've talked about."
As of last summer, the group had secured about $23 million in government and community funding for the project.
MacMackin said the group has secured a few more donations since then but, without more funding or donations, he expects the project will still be about $1.5 million in debt once it's completed.
"Which, on a $26.5 million facility is not too bad, but our goal is to try to eliminate it," MacMackin said.
"It will give us a stronger place to start from from an operations point of view."
The facility is expected to be open for use by fall 2019.