The Dana Quewezance Memorial Field at Woodlawn Park will be back in action in 2013, says a committee formed to restore and upgrade the facility.
Representatives of the regional park and local football, soccer and ball programs announced Thursday a three-phase project to restore the field and transform the area into a venue capable of hosting the 2016 Saskatchewan Summer Games.
The first phase of the project, which aims to have the field functional by next year, is already underway with sod being installed.
"Due to the fact we have this opportunity, we'd like to further develop the facility as much as we can," said Estevan Minor Football president Steve McLellan, who is a member of the committee.
"We want to investigate looking at building a track and making it an all-around summer venue."
The other members of the committee are chair Nathaniel Puffalt (Woodlawn Regional Park), vice-chair Brian Senchuk (ECS football), Sigfredo Gonzalez (Estevan Soccer), Brian Smith (minor football) and Joe Lingelbach (minor ball).
Senchuk said the project is about more than a field for soccer and football and that the goal is to provide opportunities for the whole community.
"It's about baseball, softball, soccer and football. Our group is made up of representatives of all those divisions, so we don't want to focus on one sport over another. It's about a park being available to the community on a Sunday afternoon, that they can come down and enjoy," he said.
"Ultimately we're hoping that by going after the Summer Games, we could maybe plug into some grants that are available to help us fund the track."
Estevan has not hosted the provincial summer games since 1980.
"Obviously we're only one committee. The City has to do their part, but (2016 is) our goal, for sure," said McLellan.
Phase 1 includes getting the field functional, installing irrigation and restoring buildings on the property. The budget for the phase is $150,000. Of that, $125,000 is for the field restoration.
The group is currently $39,000 short of the budget for Phase 1.
Senchuk said the committee opted for the higher-priced sod over grass seed for the field due to time considerations.
"If we planted the seed, realistically it'd be two years or three years before we could play on the surface ... we just thought three years from now is way too long to wait," he said.
The $25,000 awarded to minor football from last year's Kraft Celebration Tour is being applied directly toward sod costs.
Phase 2 involves improvements to the facility, including new field lighting and upgrades to the stands, fencing and parking area. It also includes a picnic area and playground for families as well as a score clock.
The budget for Phase 2 is $327,000. That includes $125,000 for the field lighting, $150,000 for additional stands, $35,000 for the playground, picnic area and scoreboard, $10,000 for parking area improvement, and $7,000 for fencing improvements.
"Ideally we would be able to start working on Phase 2 during the springtime, however, fundraising ability will dictate most of that as we go," said McLellan.
The third and largest phase is the addition of track and field venues to host special events such as the 2016 Games.
As this is a long-term phase, costs are only estimated at this point, but the planning document includes an overall cost of $650,000 for the installation of a running track and other field venues.
That includes $400,000 for a running track and $250,000 for other track and field facilities such as long jump, shot put, and others.
"To host an event, and whether it be the Summer Games or just any other event, I think there's an opportunity for this venue and the park to host a whole realm of different options," said McLellan.
EMF is in the process of applying to the federal Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund, which would see the project receive a grant matching all donations.
Other funding sources, aside from donations and money from the project's partners, will include the Provincial Disaster Assistance Program ($100,000 received through the application made by the regional park), the Saskatchewan Roughriders Legacy Fund and potentially other grants made available by pursuing the Saskatchewan Games.
McLellan said he hopes measures taken by the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority will prevent the facility from going through the same kind of devastation it experienced during the 2011 floods.
"These buildings are engineered as best as they can be to withstand the flood. As well, we hope that the watershed, in whichever measures are in place upstream, will help us prevent that."
Both the soccer and football groups said they are looking forward to returning to their original home.
"We were lucky there at the time that this happened that the new soccer fields were ready to play on. The Comp was kind enough to let us use their field too. When this happened here, myself, I was very devastated because I've been playing soccer here for about 20 years. I was really sad to come down and see the state of the field," said Gonzalez.
"I'm starting to get a little excited about coming back to Woodlawn because there's a lot of history here ... hopefully all the players will be and hopefully we get more people interested in playing soccer and make use of the facility."
Although the high school and minor football programs have used the high school field as their home for the last two years, McLellan said there was never any question about returning to Woodlawn.
"The high school was always planned as just a temporary location for us. This has been our home from when football first started and that's been our goal, to return here. We're very grateful for having the high school facility at our disposal for the last two years. While we do have a lot of work to do here, there is a lot of work that's been done here as well."
Puffalt said he's happy to see the partnership between Woodlawn and the soccer and football programs renewed again.
"The field isn't just there to sponsor the soccer association and the football association, it's there for the whole community, as Woodlawn has been for the last 50 years. We really want to continue that trend, continue that heritage that the park has seen, and keep improving."
Senchuk said it's tough to start almost from scratch after all the work done to make the park the permanent home for football in the city, but he is optimistic.
"It's bittersweet. It brings back memories of the hard work we went through to get here in the first place. It is kind of frustrating. On the other hand, there is new blood here and we've got a little bit more momentum now. We can do it, and we'll do it again. It just takes time, unfortunately."