A new Impact practice facility is a $16-million investment in the future of Montreal MLS soccer and not just an operating expense, says team president Joey Saputo.
Centre Nutrilait, built out of the historic Caserne Letourneux, will now be home to all of the Impact’s 11 teams: the Pre-Academy (U8 to U12), the Academy (U13 to U18), FC Montreal (USL) and the first team (MLS), which amounts to over 230 players.
Built in 1915, Caserne Letourneux became a Montreal Impact property in 2014, after three years of research to locate a site for an eventual training center. Not only did the club upgrade the building itself, adding offices, dressing rooms, classrooms, a physiotherapy room, three therapeutic baths, a gym and a kitchen (complete with chef), but it also built four full-size pitches, including two natural Kentucky Bluegrass fields, at nearby Parc Champêtre. The fields used on a daily basis by Montreal Impact teams will also be accessible to local soccer clubs.
For the Saputo family and family, the $16 million and the continuing operational expenses for the facility aren’t seen as a line item, but rather an investment in Montreal soccer, per the Montreal Gazette:
“If we’re going to build a facility where the players are going to be comfortable at, you have to invest and it’s got to be done right,” Joey Saputo said. “There’s no use to do it half-assed and then realize that you missed out or realize that you didn’t foresee something that the players needed and then you have to start over. So might as well do it right the first time….
“I have to say that some of the moneys that are being paid for designated players is scary because if they can do it, why not you?” Saputo said. “But we have to understand that we’re in totally different markets. You take a look at Toronto, they have a 30,000-seat stadium that they sell out and their ticket prices are double what our ticket prices are. So at the end of the day, you look at it and you say can we afford to do it? No. Can we afford not to do it? And that’s a question that we’re looking at.”
Images of original renderings courtesy Montreal Impact.