Masich Place Stadium open to walkers August 7

View from the top. The top of the bleachers provides a spectacular view of the newly-refurbished Masich Place Stadium, which re-opens Tuesday. Bill Phillips photo
View from the top. The top of the bleachers provides a spectacular view of the newly-refurbished Masich Place Stadium, which re-opens Tuesday. Bill Phillips photo

If you’re up early Tuesday morning (we’re talkin’ 6 a.m.) and you’re feeling energetic, why not go for a walk.

Better yet, why not go for a walk on the brand-spanking new track at Masich Place Stadium. If you’re there that early, you’ll meet Rob van Adrichem, the city’s director of external relations. He will be there to record, for posterity and a splash on the city’s social media channels, the first walkers on the newly-refurbished track.

City parks supervisor Chris Bjorn explains some of the amenities at the refurbished Masich Place Stadium. Bill Phillips photo
City parks supervisor Chris Bjorn explains some of the amenities at the refurbished Masich Place Stadium. Bill Phillips photo

The facility, which has been closed for more than a year for a $4.8 million upgrade, officially opens bright and early Tuesday morning, August 7. And with the debate over opening hours for drop-ins sorted out (6 a.m. to 9 p.m. unless the field is booked), the doors are set to open.

Crews are still putting the finishing touches on the renos, with work still being done in the track and field area and painting in the bleachers, which are awaiting for the final covering to arrive.

“The community was clear that it wanted the walking track open,” said Chris Bjorn, city parks supervisor.

The not-yet-completed bleachers will not be open to the public.

The facility includes the first synthetic outdoor field in northern B.C., a resurfaced 400m track, permanent and improved throws and jumps areas, trail improvements, and a repainted grandstand with accessibility enhancements and improved change facilities.

Usage of the facility is increasing by more than 60 per cent, according to the city, and regular users of Masich Place Stadium will now include the UNBC Timberwolves men’s and women’s soccer teams, bringing the highest level of amateur sport in Canada to the facility on a regular basis for the first time. Others booked into the Stadium this fall include the PG Minor Football Association, PG Road Runners, PG Track and Field, and School District 57.

The synthetic track requires about four hours of maintenance weekly as crews have to sweep the artificial surface and clean it. Crews also have to inspect the field every day as part of the warranty. An interesting aspect of artificial track and field is that the surface gets quite hot. Bjorn said crews will monitor the field and if the surface temperature exceeds 50 degrees Celsius, which is possible, it will be closed.

The facility will be staffed during all hours of operation to help maintain the quality of the facility and the experience of users, providing free public access during the operational season.

Public access to the track will be available starting at 6 a.m. daily, with public access varying from day-to-day depending on booked usage of the facility.

One of the major changes, other than the track and field, will be that the primary access during events will change. Rather than accessing the field off Griffiths Avenue, users and spectators will access the field from the parking lot at the other end of the field off Massey Drive.

A walkway behind a short chain-link fence will guide spectators to the stands.

All events – including daily public access to the track – are posted on the Masich Place Stadium web page: www.princegeorge.ca/masichplace. The schedule for daily public track access is also connected to the city’s online event calendar, providing opportunities for residents to subscribe to receive event information directly to their email inbox. Further information about Stadium amenities, booking the Stadium, hours of operation, and rules and regulations for facility usage can also be found online.

The city will be monitoring facility usage through the remainder of the year and soliciting public input to help to inform an operational plan for Masich Place Stadium. Staff will also be presenting a budget plan to council to accommodate the increased staffing costs as staff will be present when the facility is open.

The stadium redevelopment has cost $4.8 million with funding from the Union of British Columbia Municipalities Federal Gas Tax Strategic Priorities Fund, Northern Development Initiative Trust, and the City of Prince George.