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New sports facilities are being built in Cambridge, but are others set to close?

A new soccer complex, a recreation centre and upgrades to Preston Memorial Auditorium are all part of an over $130 million recreation infrastructure investment by the city.
Project lead, recreation services for the city of Cambridge, Shane Taylor, poses in front of the new outdoor soccer complex on the corner of Fountain St. and Linden Dr. The complex is set to open in 2023.

There's no denying the city of Cambridge has made several investments in the local sports scene in recent years.

Construction on a new outdoor soccer complex on the corner of Fountain Street and Linden Drive is well underway and will be ready for action in 2023.

Upgrades are coming to the Preston Memorial Auditorium. The renovation would see the current ice pad redesigned to NHL size, the addition of change rooms, office spaces, training, laundry, storage for the Cambridge Rivulettes, storage space for Cambridge Minor Hockey, dry land training and multi-purpose areas and an upgrade to the banquet hall.

And in 2026 there will be a ribbon cutting to officially open the state-of-the-art, multi-use Cambridge Recreation Complex. The facility will feature an eight or 10 lane, 25m swimming pool and warm water leisure pool, a gymnasium, a running/walking track and a branch location for the IDEA Exchange.

All of this is good news for sports players and enthusiasts in the city, but do these new additions and upgrades render some of the city’s current facilities obsolete?

Well, it depends on a variety of factors the city says.

“For soccer, we’re not planning on closing anything at the moment because there is such a need,” Shane Taylor, project lead, recreation services for the city of Cambridge said.

“For other facilities, we look into the future impact, the budget we have to fix them and how much life is left in a facility before big expenditures have to happen. Those are all things that come into play. Sometimes we don’t even consider closing a facility entirely, we may just decommission the ice in an arena for instance.”

Two facilities the city is currently looking into are Dickson Arena and Duncan McIntosh Arena. 

“They’re both older arenas,” Taylor said.

“They both function a certain way now, but is that the way they need to function going forward is the question.”

Director of recreation and culture for the city of Cambridge, Lesley Head, told Cambridge Today that reviewing the functionality of facilities is part of any city’s process.

“The commissioning and decommissioning of facilities is part of normal operations for a municipality,” Head said in a statement.

“The city does regular assessments on city-owned buildings which helps in developing the capital plan and in determining which work needs to be done to keep these facilities operational.”

One example is the Karl Homuth Arena, which is slated for demolition in a plan to add more parking at the expanding Preston Auditorium. 

The nearly 50-year-old facility lacks most modern standards and needs a new roof and electrical work, in addition to other repairs. To keep it operating in the meantime, staff recommended the city get an updated condition assessment to identify any urgent needs so they can be added to the budget.

The number of facilities a city operates is also a factor in what stays and what goes. With over $130 million being invested into recreation infrastructure in the next five years according to Head, there’s plenty for the city to consider.

“Structural safety and cost are factors used to determine if a building can remain open” she said.

“The goal of the Recreation Facilities Improvement Strategy is to ensure opportunities for recreation, sport and active living are provided while ensuring safe and accessible facilities. With the continued implementation of the strategy, new facilities will become operational and further review and recommendations on the decommissioning of others will be brought forward to council for consideration.”