By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
After some conflicting views, the city will provide formal support to the annual Frank Sobil Spring Classic soccer tournament.
The 16th edition of the event, hosted by the Oshawa Kicks Soccer Club, is scheduled for next May.
Earlier this fall, the club had applied for $10,500 in-kind services from the city to cover rental costs at the Oshawa Civic Recreation Complex. The application was made under the annual partnership grant program.
The complex serves as the tournament’s headquarters.
The organization’s application was not submitted before the deadline for the grant program, but the city’s finance committee had directed staff to review it and report back.
Staff ultimately recommended the request be denied as it did not meet several criteria, including being more than $5,000.
Elizabeth McCaw, executive director of Oshawa Kicks, made an appeal to the committee to change its mind.
She said the tournament welcomes more than 400 teams over the two weekends.
According to her, the event creates about $2 million in economic spin-off.
But as a charitable organization, Oshawa Kicks still faces the struggle of balancing its costs and fundraising endeavours.
McCaw estimated the tournament would see $15,700 in revenue, which is returned back to the programs they offer.
But they also have roughly $111,000 in expenses for the tournament, and receiving the $10,500 from the city would help put more back into programs.
In April, the city slashed $4,000 off the rental fees for the 2018 tournament. However, finance committee members Ward 5 city and regional councillor Brian Nicholson and Ward 3 councillor Bob Chapman both voiced concerns about the situation.
Roughly seven months later, those concerns remained.
Nicholson said the organization seemed unable to answer his concerns on its finances, specifically on the Frank Sobil Classic.
McCaw said she was unsure what they weren’t providing, but was happy to speak to clarify things for Nicholson.
In 2017, some games were moved out of Oshawa for the first time.
To McCaw, without the support of the city, this could happen again.
“So you are saying if we don’t give you a grant, you’re going to leave?” Nicholson questioned.
McCaw said this wasn’t their intention, but without the use of the Civic Recreation Complex, there simply aren’t enough facilities in Oshawa to host the entire tournament.
Ward 1 city councillor Rosemary McConkey said she didn’t understand why there would be any hesitation to support the request.
While she didn’t have a vote, Ward 2 city councillor Jane Hurst called the tournament a “worthwhile investment.”
“We are talking about the youth in and around Oshawa…I understand the camaraderie and wonderful experience that the participants and their families do enjoy,” she said.
Nicholson said approving the grant application would send a “mixed message” to other groups turned down for similar reasons.
However, he made a motion for the city to support the event through a $6,500 corporate sponsorship.
He argued this would allow the city to support the event, without overlooking the policies of the partnership grant program.
While he supported Nicholson’s motion, Chapman said he was slightly disappointed to have the same conversation again.
“I thought we gave them some really good direction,” he said.
Ward 2 city and regional councillor Tito-Dante Marimpietri said Oshawa Kicks has “good intentions,” but is hopeful the same problems can be avoided next year.
With that said, he called them a “triple-A tenant” of the Civic Recreation Complex, and it’s in the city’s best practices to treat them as such.