London’s mammoth BMO Centre is closing temporarily because it doesn’t make financial sense to open under COVID restrictions, the head of the indoor soccer complex says.
Tom Partalas made the decision after speaking with area public health officials.
With London in the red zone of Ontario’s coronavirus restrictions, only 10 people at a time would be allowed inside the complex, which is home to six soccer pitches.
“It doesn’t make any financial sense (to stay open),” Partalas said.
The revenue from 10 kids playing soccer wouldn’t be enough to “turn the lights on,” he added.
He said the 10-person limit makes no sense in a 120,000 square-foot building. “They’re treating us like we should have the same capacity as someone who has 1,000 square feet,” he said.
“It’s no different than being out at the park,” Partalas said. “We’re a lot bigger place than a school is in terms of square footage.”
He said he’d like to see the restrictions revised to a percentage of the building’s occupancy limits, as is the case with places of worship, and has written a letter to that end to area Conservative MPP Jeff Yurek and Premier Doug Ford.
Asked how long the sports facility will remain closed, Partalas said he hopes London and surrounding Middlesex County could move into the less-restrictive COVID-19 orange zone at month’s end.
Partalas said he and his staff followed “stringent” protocols for the two months the centre has been open since the coronavirus arrived in Ontario a year ago.
In a good year, he says 3,500 young soccer players would come through the BMO Centre’s doors.