Major Renovations Planned for Walsh Feild

Artificial turf field and new track planned for Bonnyville.

The Bonnyville Amateur Football Association (BAFA) scored a major touchdown recently with the news of a major overhaul of the field and the track, thanks to an anonymous benefactor. Mickey Fagnan, coach of the Bonnyville Bantam Bandits, presented the initial plans to Bonnyville Town Council on Tuesday evening, stating the field will undergo a $2.9 million upgrade; which includes an artificial turf field.

“We are looking at a brand new, $2.9 million addition to the Notre Dame School Football Field (aka Walsh Field),” Fagnan says BAFA has spoken with architects on the design and are ready, pending development permit approval to begin renovations in mid-April. “That will include a completed certified IAAFA track and several out buildings.”

Fagnan explains that with the upgrade to the field, Bonnyville will become a destination point for high-level track, soccer, lacrosse and football matches. There will be soccer, lacrosse and football lines applied to the field. “At this moment, we are not able to hold any high level track meet, soccer match or football match. We cannot attract anybody into Bonnyville, we do not have the facilities.”  Fagnan says that’ll all change with the improvements, “conservatively, with only four major matches coming to Bonnyville, 20,000-25,000 people coming to town between the summer and fall months.” Fagnan says conservative numbers from those matches would result in $2-3 million in revenue for the town.

Fagnan says the field is being funding by an independent benefactor, whom at this time wishes to be anonymous. “He’s a humble man and there will be a time for acknowledgement; just not now.” The benefactor has already provided BAFA with $1 million that is in a bank, ready for ground break. “He said, ‘Bonnyville needs a jump start and I believe this is exactly what it needs’,” Fagnan explains the financial backer is completely behind the project.

BAFA had previously installed lights on the field and has plans to install grand stands as phase 4 of the project, after the renovations on the field are made. “We’re looking as an association to be very credible and reliable,” Fagnan says that BAFA has secured a 20 year lease from Lakeland Catholic School District (LCSD) on the field. LCSD is aware that construction on the field during the spring/summer would mean that the track would not be able to be used for 2017 season.

Fagnan is not requesting any financial backing from the Town at this time. Perhaps once things get rolling he may be in to ask for equipment in leu of a financial contribution. What he’d more like to see is making his timeline, “we have a small window of opportunity in mid-April to allow for an August 1st ribbon cutting.” With the football season starting in mid-August it is very important to reach this benchmark. However, surveying has been delayed due to weather, so Fagnan is hoping that if they get their development permits in in time, would the Town support the project.

Town Council agreed the project will benefit the community and urged Fagnan to get in the development permits so that the project timelines would be met.