Indoor turf fields busy amid wet spring season

Wet spring weather is putting a damper on Island sports teams looking to practice on outdoor fields — meaning many are turning to indoor facilities to prepare for their upcoming seasons.

Staff at the Norton Diamond Soccer Complex in Stratford, P.E.I., say its indoor turf field is usually in high demand during spring months, and this year is no exception.

Vernon Doyle, manager at the facility, said this year he's noticing a number of new teams using the turf that would otherwise be using outdoor fields.

"We're seeing a lot of rugby this year, a little more baseball than we typically have in the past," Doyle said. "The timelines that provincial teams, associations and what not have to make their selections and get their programs up and running is limited. So we are finding we're catching some of that backlog as well.

"A lot of organizations try to get outside in April, but the weather's been such that the fields are still fairly wet, the natural turf fields, so they're coming to the complex," Doyle said.

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Tryouts, new programs

Doyle said this spring season there are up to 30 different teams using the indoor turf at the complex — some for the first time.

"We have a senior women's football team, which is getting ready for their first year of action," he said. "Then there's the P.E.I. Ultimate Frisbee League as well, who usually prepare to go off to a national championship."

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Jason Monaghan, owner of the East Coast Baseball Academy in Charlottetown, said bookings for his indoor turf are growing as well. The facility opened at the end of March and there are already about a dozen teams using it on a regular basis.

"This is sort of like crunch-time right now," Monaghan said. "Everybody rolls out pretty much all around the same point in time. So from today moving forward for probably the next month everybody's going to be looking for that indoor space or indoor training time to better themselves."

He said he's also seeing a lot of new teams accessing the indoor turf, including cricket, lacrosse and football teams.

There's only so many prime-time hours in a week. - Vernon Doyle

Many of them are booking the space to accommodate new programs, run tryouts or hold practices while they wait for outdoor fields to open, Monaghan said.

The city of Charlottetown says it's outdoor sports fields will remain closed until further notice, due to wet conditions.

Prime-time hours booked solid

While there are some time slots open in the schedule at both indoor turf fields, Doyle said the prime-time slots book up fast.

Evenings and weekends are booked almost solid into the end of May, he said. There are many different teams of all age groups booking the field, which can make it hard to meet the needs of everyone using the turf, especially teams with younger players, he added.

Brittany Spencer/CBC

"There's only so many prime-time hours in a week," Doyle said. "The challenge is you've got probably a four hour window to accommodate the majority of the user groups, age groups."

Both indoor facilities are still accepting bookings for the spring season, but they encourage teams hoping to use the fields to call ahead and try to book early.

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