History of Packham Road
Stratford Soccer Association's interactive map featuring all Stratford soccer facility (fields/pitches) locations with directions.
Stratford, Ontario, Soccer, Field, Pitch, Maps
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History of Packham Road

Stratford Soccer Association

How Soccer Ended Up At Packham Road

 

From the 1950s to the mid-1990s the premier soccer field in Stratford was located at FAG Bearings, now Schaeffler Canada, on Ontario Street. Originally it was one full sized field for the Stratford City Team andlater in the 70’s used by the Men’s Industrial League. Over time several additional smaller fields were added to accommodate youth players of various ages.

 

In the early 1990s an adult re-training program was approached to see if they wanted a project that being the construction of a 50′ x 24′ structure to house change rooms, equipment storage and washrooms at FAG bearings. In order to finance the project, Stratford Youth Soccer (SYS) requested assistance from the City of Stratford in the amount of $30,000, to be paid back interest free over 10 years. This was paid back in full as per the agreement.

 

In the mid-1990s the property was sold to Zehrs and the users of the field were notified that they had to move. SYS received cheques from Zehrs and FAG bearings in the amount of $50,000 each which would be used to relocate to other areas and to move the newly constructed building.

 

Through a contact at the Standard Products plant located on Erie Street at Packham Road, soccer was offered the use of 11 acres of land surrounding the Standard Products plant.  Previously, this land had been rented out to a local farmer for growing crops.

A local soccer player, who was attending the University of Guelph at the time, tested the soil to ensure that grass could be grown on the property. The same student researched grass mixes suitable for playing fields along with potential suppliers. Through soccer friendly farmers, the property was worked and levelled in readiness for the grass. Soccer volunteers picked stones and helped in other areas and in late August that year $5000 worth of grass seed was sown on the 11 acres of land by a Soccer friendly landscaper.

 

The following year a theodolite, borrowed from a soccer friendly engineer, allowed volunteers to lay out four full sized soccer fields on the property, to maximize the use of the land.

 

The building was moved, at a cost of approximately $25,000, from FAG to the Standard Products property. It was placed on footings supplied by a local soccer friendly contractor and was connected to services available; at that time water and hydro only.

 

A local manufacturing company donated time and material to construct four sets of goal frames, whichwere delivered to the site and installed by a soccer friendly contractor. Later that year 100 trees were planted throughout the site by soccer volunteers.

 

A couple of years later the City of Stratford purchased a 7 acre site adjacent to the new soccer fields. It was identified that the area could accommodate two additional full sized soccer fields. SYS levelled the land thanks to soccer friendly farmers and hired a drainage contractor to install drainage on the property. More grass seed was sown and additional goal frames were manufactured, delivered and installed as before.

 

From the mid-90s for a period of about six years the sport of soccer experienced a surge in enrolment atthe youth level, the number virtually doubling over that time frame. Adult soccer also became more popular, requiring soccer to construct additional fields. Accordingly, SYS also created and paid for those additional soccer fields at the Standard Products plant located on Douro Street.

 

Over that five to six year period SYS spent approximately $250,000 developing the aforementioned properties. Had it not been for the thousands of hours of volunteer work, along with the generosity of local farmers, contractors, landscapers and corporations this amount would likely have been 10 times the amount.

In 2006 the Stratford Soccer Association (SSA) was created to be a voice for all soccer players in the community. When the Standard Products plant on Erie Street was sold to Feltz storage, the city was notified that the land was for sale and the asking price was $650,000 for the original 11 acre parcel. At that time the community services department only had $500,000 in a reserve fund and the SSA committed to cover the remaining $150,000 over a 15 year period. That commitment is still in place and is being paid as agreed.

 

Through the generosity of a soccer friendly and very community minded architect, a number of conceptual plans were drawn up to improve the Packham facilities even more. The SSA vision was to convert the 18 acre site from being a 4 ½ months a year soccer facility to an almost year round Community Park, with the addition of 2 km of accessible pedestrian and bicycle trails, fitness equipment located at various locations throughout the site, new change rooms and washrooms, a pavilion and a new artificial turf field which could be used many more months of the year.

 

A grant from Trillium was obtained by the SSA for a feasibility study relating to conversion of the area and the construction of an artificial turf field. A number of field trips were conducted across southwestern Ontario to view similar facilities and meetings were held with consultants and staff from other communities. It was estimated that the construction of a fenced and flood lit, artificial turf field would be in the area of $1.2 million. The proposal was made to Stratford City Council and SSA agreed to raise $700,000, over time, towards the project. The Stratford Soccer Association solicited local businesses, corporations, service clubs and foundations and thanks to the generosity of the community raised that amount and more, through the naming rights of various components of the community park.

 

In addition to that SSA paid for additional lights at the main grass soccer field at a cost of over $100,000. The estimated cost of the pavilion, change rooms and washroom facility was more than expected and has been tabled for the time being. Fitness equipment has been installed for public use in three locations adjacent to the turf field.  2 km of trails will be constructed in the summer of 2020 all of which will be paid for by SSA. The estimated cost of the fitness equipment and trail is $80,000.

 

SSA fixed up the existing clubhouse with new siding in the summer of 2019 thanks to the generosity of yet another soccer friendly local company. SSA is also paying for new washrooms at the facility including a fully accessible washroom.  Another project finished up in 2019 was creating and installing a couple of nesting sites for barn swallows. This was done in cooperation with students at Northwestern High School and the generosity of the Kiwanis Club of Stratford.

These are the sorts of things that can happen when “Community driven projects” are presented to Council. We’re not the first example and we won’t be the last. In recent history the Splash Pad on Downie Street, the Skate Park at Shakespeare Street, the Hospice at Greenwood Court and the Community Park at Erie and Packham are all great community projects. SSA fully realizes that funds are limited and the demands are many for the City and we are willing to do what we can to create a space where the entire community can come and enjoy.

 

Our next project is right around the corner!  Ask your local SSA representative what we have coming up!