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Bleachers a barrier to play

Newly installed concrete pads and bleachers make 12-man minor football unsafe
Little Mountain Bleachers
Bleachers and a cement pad are situated two feet off the sidelines

Newly installed concrete pads to secure bleachers at the SASCU Sports Field have drawn criticism and may be removed.

Minor football coach Rob Ellis says the field space is tight and while it can still accommodate a nine-man team, the new 12-man midget team will not be able to play in the field.

“They (the bleachers) are only two feet off the sideline of a 12-man football field,” Ellis says, noting due to safety considerations for the players, the field may have to be shortened and other midget teams advised of the size when they come to play in Salmon Arm.

He understands the city had the best of intentions in making the bleachers solid but wonders why nobody consulted with the minor football or soccer leagues before installing the bleachers so close to the playing area of the only field in the city with nighttime lighting capabilities.

“The fields were designed to be soccer fields and we put (the bleachers) in thinking we were doing something good,” said Rob Hein, the city’s manager of roads and parks. “And we may well take them out. We’re just waiting to hear from our insurance company.”

Hein says no one from the Shuswap Minor Football Association advised the city the league would be introducing a 12-man team. He says the city bought extra property in order to design and build the three soccer fields.

“Soccer was the initiative for the fields; football has come along in the interim but none of the fields have been designed for that,” said Hein.

In order to accommodate 12-man football, council would have to approve the funds to design something or widen the field and fit them in at Little Mountain. To do that would mean finding more land, most likely from Little Mountain Park.

Hein says the focus right now is on the improvements at Blackburn Park, with the new soccer field, picnic shelter, walking/exercise track and spray park all planned to be completed by Sept. 30 and ready for use in 2017.