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Winter soccer under threat in western Montreal after Catalogna Soccerplexe closure

Piece by piece, the Catalogna Soccerplexe is coming down.

"It feels like its memories coming down," said Julien Frimerman, as he watched demolition crews dismantle the complex where he started kicking a ball around in his teens.

"It was a hub," he said. "I met a lot of my friends, had a lot of good times, laughs, ups and downs."

Developers bought the facility in 2021 and are preparing to build condos, displacing the hundreds of amateur soccer teams that played at the Soccerplexe on a weekly basis.

"On the Island of Montreal there's not that many facilities to play or practice sports during the winter," said Frimerman, who has been running the Quebec Super League, with close to 300 teams, out of the Soccerplexe for the past eight years.

There are only a handful of indoor soccer fields west of downtown and nowhere near enough space to accommodate the hundreds of teams that played in Lachine.

Soccerplexes in western Montreal and the West Island"I consider us one of the lucky ones," said Hugo O'Doherty, an amateur soccer player who used to play on Wednesday evenings. After months of searching, he finally found a league with space on Sunday nights in Brossard from 9 - 11 p.m.

"I did hear from the head of the league that there's guys booking fields just for pickup at midnight and even 1 a.m.," he said.

But, for many, it means the end of indoor soccer in the winter.

"It's a disaster," said Maja Vodanovic, borough mayor of Lachine. The city, she said, was blindsided by the sale of the soccerplexe to developers in 2021.

"I thought that the zoning for the area because it was an institution was not zoned for residential use," she admitted, "but, actually it was."

The City then looked into buying the complex from the developer after it became clear the sale could not be blocked, but determined it would be too expensive to bring it up to code. Instead, Vodanovic is pushing for a new indoor soccer complex to be built in neighbouring LaSalle.

"I told Mme. Blanchet, the (LaSalle) mayor, that we are willing to financially participate in that endeavour," she said.

In an interview with CTV News, Nancy Blanchet said the borough is in the process of doing a feasibility study for a new indoor field.

In the meantime, Frimerman said he isn't holding his breath for a quick solution. This season, he has already had to cut the size of his league in half.

"We're also in three different locations, he said, "which makes it a little bit more difficult."

Julien Frimerman said he met a lot of his friends at the Catalognia Soccerplexe.One of the last indoor fields in the West Island is the Sports Dome in Baie-d'Urfe.

"In the last two months, I've basically been denying everybody because we're fully booked," said Paymon Kabiri, sporting director for Lakeshore Soccer, which uses the Sports Dome as its winter home base.

"As soon as, obviously, Catalogna went down, right away everyone who didn't have a home came to us."

But, even the future of the sports dome is uncertain. Lakeshore Soccer's lease expires in April, and there is no guarantee it will be renewed."

One of the last indoor fields in the West Island is the Sports Dome in Baie-d'Urfe."This is a private facility," he explained. "We need help from our cities more than ever so if there is a possibility to come together and try to help each other it's only going to benefit the future generations and the residents of our cities."

Losing more indoor field space in the West Island could significantly impact the club's recruitment and threaten the survival of several leagues.

"It's absolutely under threat," said Frimerman. "There's a lot of people trying to figure out solutions but as of now a lot of people are hitting dead ends." Top Stories

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