East Coast Games organizers barely take a time out before setting sights on next year

The fifth annual East Coast Games wrapped up in the Saint John area on Sunday and organizers are already looking ahead to next year when a new facility will be ready for use.

The Greater Saint John Field House, slated to open this fall, could mean the addition of some new sports to the competition, said Bill MacMackin, president of the field house project, and founder of the games.

It has portable badminton and pickle ball courts, for example, he said.

"We're really always waiting for other sport groups to come forward and say, 'This is what we'd like to do and can we be part of the East Coast games?' So we're anxious to see what people see when that facility opens."

The field house, located at Exhibition Park on the city's east side, will include two turf fields, each measuring 60 metres by 30 metres, which could come in handy in inclement weather, as well as a 200-metre indoor track, a fitness facility and change rooms.

Once construction is complete, the 127,000 square foot-complex will be the largest sports field house space in New Brunswick and one of the largest in Atlantic Canada.

The East Coast Games, dubbed Atlantic Canada's largest annual multi-sport games, saw nearly 2,500 athletes from across the Maritimes, Quebec and New England compete in about 19 sporting events at gyms and fields across Saint John and surrounding communities June 21-23.

"We had a great weekend," with lots of positive feedback on the quality of the venues and the volunteers, said MacMackin.

East Coast Games/Facebook

Fencing, which was new this year, was one of the highlights for him, as well as track and field. "I'm the track guy."

The games have tripled in size since they began in 2015.

"I feel really amazed sometimes that it happens year after year because it's a loosely put together event in terms of our structure," said MacMackin.

"But that's what makes it strong because we've given these sport individuals the power to run their tournament do it the way they want and have some flexibility."

He hopes to see the growth trend continue with the addition of the field house.

Construction, which began in February 2018, is in the home stretch with an average of 100 people working at the site daily on everything from curing the concrete floors and painting, to installing electrical and plumbing fixtures, and landscaping.

Equipment is scheduled to be delivered in late August, with the doors tentatively scheduled to open in September.

Other features will include a community centre and daycare operated by the YMCA of Greater Saint John.

"It's exciting," said MacMackin, who has been working on the project for the past five or six years.

"I cannot wait to be in there and watch the youth and the adults and the seniors of Saint John have an opportunity to use it and get in from the weather and do some winter activities and bring some events to Saint John that have never been here."