History of the Edmonton Soccer Association
Indoor Soccer Facilities
The Edmonton Soccer Facilities are operated by the Edmonton Soccer Association which was incorporated as a non-profit organization under the provisions of the Societies Act of the Province of Alberta. The Association commenced operations on June 1, 1985 with Edmonton & District Soccer Association (EDSA) and Edmonton Minor Soccer Association (EMSA) combining as joint partners. The Association was formed to operate and develop soccer facilities within the City of Edmonton.
The first indoor facility that was set up was run by the Edmonton Minor Soccer Association and was referred to as the EMSA Bubble and was located at Confederation Park. The EMSA Bubble ran for two years until the Edmonton Soccer Association was created in 1985. At this time the Strathcona Soccer Centre was purchased.
The Strathcona Soccer Centre was the first permanent indoor soccer facility in Edmonton and had two fields. Originally a steel fabrication warehouse, the building was converted for the sport of indoor soccer. With the large growth of indoor soccer, the Strathcona Soccer Centre could no longer handle the entire field times needed. In October 1995, the Edmonton Soccer Centre West was opened.
The Edmonton Soccer Centre West has four fields/arenas each with the approximate dimensions of a full size hockey arena. The concrete surfaces are covered with rubber and an artificial turf surface. The turf surfaces are removable and during the summer months alternative sports are played on the smooth concrete surface (Ball Hockey, Inline Hockey, and Lacrosse).
The Edmonton Soccer Centre West was only in its third year and the growth of indoor soccer had again grown beyond the capacity of both the Edmonton Soccer Centre West and the Strathcona Soccer Centre. In the fall of 1999, the Edmonton Soccer Centre East was completed. With this addition, the Strathcona Soccer Centre was sold to help fund the new facility.
The Edmonton Soccer Association's third indoor soccer four plex, the Edmonton Soccer Centre South, was completed in March 2004, and was expanded to six fields from October 2022. The facility is similar in layout and size to the Edmonton Soccer Centres West and East. This brought the total playing fields to fourteen. All three indoor facilities were made possible by a partnership with the City of Edmonton.
Outdoor Soccer Facilities
In 1987, Henry Singer Sports Centre outdoor facility was opened located at 149 Avenue and 142 Street. When the fields were first opened there were only four full size soccer fields with two baseball diamonds. This facility was initially developed as a "Home Base" project made possible by the Community Services Department of the City of Edmonton. In 2001 an additional two soccer fields were added and again in 2002 two more fields were completed.
The name of the outdoor fields was officially changed to the Edmonton Soccer Association Complex in July 2002. The Edmonton Soccer Association Clubhouse was built by the Edmonton Soccer Association and its members, and was completed in February 2003. Two additional fields were added in 2004 and with ten fields now in operation, a paved parking lot was added in July 2005. A further two fields were completed in 2008.
In September 2007, the Edmonton Soccer Association Complex added an outdoor artificial turf field. This artificial outdoor field may be used through the spring, summer and fall. It is often used to prevent important games from being cancelled due to inclement weather.
Throughout the spring and summer of 2010 and 2011, the City of Edmonton completed road construction to realign 142nd Street. This shortened the driveway into the Edmonton Soccer Association Complex, and opened up some additional opportunities - Edmonton Soccer Association paved the remainder of it's main entranceway into the facilities, and completed contruction to hook up to City sewage, replacing the septic system that had been in place previously. A walk-in cooler was also installed at this time, and improvements made inside the clubhouse to make service wait times shorter.
In July, 2012, a second artificial turf surface reached completion, replacing the grass field originally known as field 12. This second surface conforms to FIFA regulations, and allows the opportunity to host larger and more prestigious events at the Edmonton Soccer Association Complex. In 2020, the first artificial turf surface was replaced and upgraded to a high quality, new, synthetic turf field.
In 2017, the complex was formally renamed the Bill Gilhespy Soccer Association Complex, in recognition of the efforts and contributions of long term board member and president Bill Gilhespy, who has served since the inception of Edmonton Soccer Association.
Throughout 2017, 2018, and 2019, maintenance staff devoted time to the development of a smaller grass field, suitable for U11 play. During times when this is not being used as a game field, it is incorporated to the warm-up/practice spaces for adult fields to use. This brings the number of usable field spaces to 2 artificial turf fields, 11 full-sized grass fields, and 1 mini-field, for a total of 14 playable spaces.