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April 10th, 2017
BMO Centre in London ready to grow

BMO Centre in London ready to grow


Only weeks away from a major expansion, an indoor soccer complex in London is about to become one of the largest of its kind in Ontario and among the top three in Canada.

Ground will be broken March 20 on a two-pitch addition to the BMO Centre/London Optimist Sports Centre that already houses four soccer fields.

“I don’t want to say for sure” that it’s destined to become the largest such venue in Canada, “just in case there’s one that’s got more space,” said Tom Partalas, the centre’s president. He’s heard Edmonton may have a slightly largely centre, so he’s cautious.

Still, the facility is big.

So big, Partalas estimates that 3,500 kids on 200 teams play soccer in the building every week. That’s not counting adult leagues for men and women.

The expansion will cost $8 million. Partalas estimates the centre’s property-tax bill alone will run to $150,000 a year.

“We’re self-sustained here. We never asked the city for anything,” he said.

Opened in 2011, the BMO Centre is run by the non-profit London Optimist Sports Centre at no cost to taxpayers. Soccer’s popularity has made the complex at 295 Rectory St. a huge hit.

On weekends, the games start at 7:30 a.m. and go past midnight. During the week, the play goes from about 5 p.m. to midnight.

“Even the city politicians didn’t know soccer was so big,” Partalas said proudly.

And it’s not just the beautiful game that’s played there.

“I have a walking track, which is the largest one in the area,” Partalas boasted. He estimates it draws as many as 150 seniors in the winter.

“They come three times a week. Where are they going to walk in the winter?”

In addition, the indoor fields are used as a training ground for both secondary school and university football squads.

“We have the (Western University) Mustangs, they come here,” Partalas said.

Ultimate Frisbee enthusiasts have been known to play at BMO Centre, and a wedding has been held there.

“What we do for the community here is amazing,” Partalas said, sounding like a proud father.

“We want the people of London to know what is happening.”

Source: http://www.lfpress.com/2017/03/05/bmo-centre-in-london-ready-to-grow




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