Cavalry FC presented its new pitch and planned stadium designs to a select group of supporters and local soccer media during a small sneak-peak event at Spruce Meadows Saturday.
The new venue, located in the ‘Meadows on the Green’ enclosure at Spruce Meadows, will play host to all of Cavalry FC’s home games during the first season of the Canadian Premier League (CPL), kicking off in April 2019.
But the grass surface will see its first action when Cavalry FC and FC Edmonton meet in a ‘prospects match’ Saturday, September 29. ‘Festival-seating’ will be used for Saturday’s match, with the finalized stadium set-up to be put in place by next year, when the CPL begins. Tickets for the Cavalry FC vs FC Edmonton prospects game are available for purchase online.
Ian Allison, President and COO at Spruce Meadows Sports & Entertainment, who hosted Saturday’s informal meet-up, spoke to Total Soccer Project about the progress being made at Cavalry FC:
What can you tell us about the upcoming ‘prospects’ game between Cavalry FC and FC Edmonton?
“It’s an exciting week for sure, because it’s all becoming real now as we christen the Meadows on the Green pitch, with the renovations that have been done to the surface,” said Allison. “With FC Edmonton prospects getting ready to travel south to take on the Cavalry FC Prospects in the ‘Al Classico’ it’s an exciting time.
“I think there’s great enthusiasm with the young Alberta players. I think the whole concept of the ‘Al Classico’, the prospects, the CPL, the #GotGame – all of this has become reality. It’s tangible.”
Who will be playing in the prospects match and who’ll be playing for Cavalry FC next season?
“I think Tommy Wheeldon Jr (Cavalry FC head coach and general manager) has done a tremendous job of inspiring and encouraging young players, driven off the great success of the PDL franchise this summer with Foothills FC and their tremendous success.
“And now they have an opportunity, these players, to take that next step to see whether or not they can play the pro game. That core group and some youth players in the province and others that are now looking to put soccer roots down here, or who are returning in the likes of Nik Ledgerwood for instance. There are terrific stories out there and we are just beginning.”
Now that the pitch has been laid, what are the next steps for the stadium and the facility here?
“I think like all things, you have to build on a strong foundation. And we wanted to have a very high-quality and truly unique football experience for our club to play out of. And I think we’ve taken some great steps to get there.
“The Meadows on the Green has had a new drainage system and some rather significant renovations done to it over the summer months, since we finished the show jumping season. And now we can start working on the perimeter of it, which includes the final designs for the grandstand and fan experience here, which will be just over 5,000 (spectators) in our current design.
“For our prospects game, of course, we are going on a kind of temporary festival seating basis. But we want to get game operations and pre-game understood, because it is a new endeavour for us.
“We’re used to putting on major events here at Spruce Meadows. We had over 150,000 people the last three days of the Masters Tournament (equestrian show jumping). So we just need to understand our new fans for this endeavour. What their expectations are. How we can deliver the best pre-game, march to the match, all of those kind of things that re going to be a part of Cavalry FC.
“The stadium, locker room and technical infrastructure will begin to have its installation commencing mid-October. I walked you through some of the design plans we have for both hosting and the different areas around the stadium – fan experience , fan price-points all those kind of things. So, everybody, no matter where they live or where they come from can get to the games, they can afford the games and they can have a great experience, starting in April.
“And we have to put the pitch to bed. We’re going to have a few practices, we’re going to have the prospects game and then we’re going to tuck it in for the winter and get ready to play on it in April.”
What’s been the interest in the prospects game?
“They’ve been very interested. We’re going to limit it to 3,000 (spectators) and we haven’t been out in the market place, per se, other than to membership for the first week, since we’ve been able to button down the dates. And our tickets sales, right now, are sitting about 1,000, including some great groups.
“Starting, effectively, today (Saturday) the rest of the population will become increasingly aware of it. I think there’s one or two bus loads coming down from FC Edmonton, so we look forward to showing them how it’s done – both on and off the field.”
What else is coming up for Cavalry FC? What can you share about the kit design?
“We’ve got a lot of balls in the air right now that are all being managed, I think, rather well. Whether it be as we get ready to come into the market place with ticket sales a little bit later this year, near the end of October.
“With respect to the kit, which everybody’s been asking about, we’ll be able to unveil and announce those final designs in the next couple of weeks, as we’re just in the final design elements that are just taking place now for both home and away. The primary colours will be red and green.
“Another thing that is certainly exciting right now is the #GotGame open tryouts that are happening coast to coast. They commenced this week in Halifax. Tommy Wheeldon Jr. was there. Between himself and Martin Nash, they’ll be at all of the open trials, including the ones that are being held late in October here (in Calgary), where I understand we’re at about 170 that have already signed up.
“It’s an exciting time. There’s a great appetite and enthusiasm around the game and, in particular, around the CPL and all things related to it. And Cavalry FC is delighted to be a part of it.”