Stadium a boon for school

[attach]6278[/attach]A game changer is coming to Monarch Park Collegiate — in the form of a state-of-the-art stadium complete with a professional standard turf, 510-square-metre clubhouse, and what promises to be Toronto’s longest track.

The new Monarch Park Stadium is the second project in the Toronto District School Board’s Championship Field program, which partners with private companies — in this case, Razor Management — to provide athletic facilities for schools in exchange for the right to permit its use at specified times.

“Our old track was almost 50 years old,” said Monarch Park Collegiate Institute principal Cynthia Abernethy. “Having something like this gives our students and our feeder schools better access to playing fields.”

With the new stadium only in its first phase of construction and slated to open Oct. 28, there’s already a lot of excitement around the project.

“We’re not a wealthy school and, by having something like this, we can have better programs and places for our children to play in,” said parent association head Jacqui Strachan.

Razor Management owner Matthew Raizenne sees this as a win-win.

“[The school board] has all these great assets in great locations but they have no money,” he said. “As they told me, their primary goal is educating students and it’s not extra-curricular activities … so we’re glad to provide them with a top notch facility.”

Though Razor Management is responsible for the stadium’s operating costs and maintenance, Monarch Park Collegiate will have sole use of the $5-million facility from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. during school months. After school and in summer, the company can rent it out to recoup their investment.

So far, the stadium already has three anchor tenants: Toronto Ultimate Club, Cherry Beach Soccer Club, and Toronto Sport and Social Club.

It will operate year-round, with the track and field covered by a dome during the winter months. User fees will be more expensive in the winter but Raizenne said the rates would remain competitive with those of Birchmount and Lamport stadiums.

The stadium might be a potential training area for the Pan-Am Games. Raizenne is also in preliminary talks with a new sports team interested in making the stadium its home.

All this is good news to Strachan.

“Knowing that there are talks of having the stadium used for the Pan-Am is amazing,” Strachan said. “Kids can sit in on practices if they can’t go to the games. How great is that?”