WSF Garden City Soccer Complex

As previously seen in Award Magazine: digital.canadawide.com



Soccer’s popularity across North America notwithstanding, too often new pitches are relegated to whatever leftover space is available within community property. So when the Manitoba government, the City of Winnipeg and the Winnipeg Soccer Federation (WSF) teamed up in May of 2014 to announce a massive expansion at the Garden City Community Centre that would do the sport proud, the excitement was palpable.

However, the development of a 120,000-square-foot FIFA-certified indoor soccer pitch as part of the expansion required design and construction talent that appreciated the sport. “Fortunately, we and Bird Construction are not merely soccer fans, we’re absolutely passionate about it, and therefore we were committed to creating a premium space,” says Jeff Penner, Winnipeg based principal for Stantec.

The project would give both companies the chance to improve on their work for WSF’s Subway Soccer South complex, which opened at the University of Manitoba in 2008. “The new venue would have better operational efficiencies, better technology and far superior viewing areas,” says Penner.

Early on it was decided to create an indoor field that could be split into four smaller fields, locker rooms, standing and seated viewing areas, a restaurant/ concession area, offices, seminar rooms, a pro shop, public lobby and display area (these components would boost overall square footage to 165,000 square feet).

There was a catch: dubbed Winnipeg Soccer Federation North (WSFN), the improved soccer complex would have to be developed on a relatively modest budget of $20.6 million.

Moreover, only 15 months was allotted to deliver the final product: when the project was officially announced in May of 2014, it was estimated that construction would begin in the fall and be completed in time for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Measuring 105-metres long and 68-metres wide (compared to Subway Soccer South’s 100-metre long and 64-metre wide indoor field), the Garden City facility would be the third FIFA sized indoor pitch in Winnipeg, with a prime location; next door to Garden City Shopping Centre and just across the field from the new Seven Oaks Arena.

From the outset, Stantec realized that the short delivery timeline required a collaborative approach with the construction manager, the owner and other key stakeholders. “The great trust between Bird and ourselves proved to be enormously beneficial, and WSF was very clear in their vision of what they wanted,” says Penner.



The project was organized under a modified construction management procurement process. Bird provided pre-construction services, and then the delivery was converted into a full general contract in order to avoid the complexity “of having multiple contracts with the trades,” explains Penner.

In order to fulfill WSF’s main goal of improved operational efficiency, Stantec created a facility in which the field of play was at grade, which would, amongst other things, enable incoming spectators to see the soccer pitch immediately and (unlike traditional split-level designs) simplify the task of parents picking up their kids after a game.

To improve the spectator experience, Stantec provided tiered seating on the north and south sides of the big volume pitch as well as on a mezzanine, and standing room and additional seating on the east and west sides separated by glass guard rails. The pitch itself would contain two motorized drop curtains, one bisecting the pitch and the other running perpendicular to the first, the lowering of which would provide either two pitches or four quarter pitches.

LED lighting, designed by MCW Consultants Ltd., plus the extensive use of glazing would give the interior a sense of grandeur and appeal to young players; and this, combined with a focus on wayfinding, would create a sense of security for end users.

Part of landscape architect Scatliff + Miller + Murray’s duties was to create a sloping berm that would rise up against the north side of the building in order to reduce its big box appearance. “Also to reduce the box effect we created the mezzanine to cantilever outward on all sides, and we manipulated the roof line so that there would be lower heights at the south and east,” says Penner.

Insulated metal panels for cladding were chosen for budgetary reasons as well as to reduce the construction schedule, “and fortunately the panels were visually appealing in addition to giving us the required insulation values,” says Penner.

It took a mere four months to bring the project to tender, and the construction process included a few challenges that Bird was well equipped to handle. “The building site was adjacent to an old garbage dump, so to deal with any methane leakage the underground services were specially sealed, and we dug a trench across the length of the building and filled it with clay to prevent any ingress of gas,” says Bird business development manager Dave Dulko. “We also created vent ports at different areas of the facility for methane testing.”

Structurally, LDA Engineering was required to extend some pilings and create a structural slab in the locker room portion of the facility. “It was purely a precaution, because some garbage from the adjacent site had been dug up during excavation,” says Dulko.

Cost savings were achieved throughout the construction process, including the slight downgrading of MCW’s lighting scheme at the play area. “The beauty of LED is that downgrading could be achieved without any loss of clarity,” says Dulko.

“WSF was so impressed by the result that they’re considering retrofitting Subway Soccer South with LEDs.” WSF president Devon Kashton credits Stantec and Bird for doing “just a phenomenal job on the facility.” As far as Penner is concerned, he is anxious for the doors to be opened: “I’m looking forward to playing in it myself, as is my son. I truly believe this is one of the premier indoor soccer spaces in Canada.”

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