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Indoor turf will be available in winter in Duluth

People soon will be able to play soccer, baseball, lacrosse and other warm-weather sports in comfort nearly year-round in Duluth. The indoor athletic turf used at the Duluth Heritage Center's Seitz Arena in spring and summer now will be used at t...

Turf
A 210-by-120-foot indoor athletic turf donated to the Boys and Girls Club of the Northland by the Minnesota Vikings in 2008 will be used at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center under an agreement announced Tuesday. The turf will create an indoor athletic field from November to March in Pioneer Hall, which will be called Pioneer Park when the turf is installed. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

People soon will be able to play soccer, baseball, lacrosse and other warm-weather sports in comfort nearly year-round in Duluth.

The indoor athletic turf used at the Duluth Heritage Center's Seitz Arena in spring and summer now will be used at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center's Pioneer Hall during the winter, it was announced Tuesday at a news conference in Seitz Arena.

"It will be the only indoor grass in Duluth in the winter," Heritage Sports Center President Gerald DeMeo said.

DECC executive director Dan Russell estimated the turf could see 800 hours of service a winter at Pioneer Park, as Pioneer Hall will be known when the turf is there.

"The Duluth Heritage Sports Center is providing the community an excellent service by continuing its programming in Pioneer Park," said Deb Messer, president of the DECC board of directors.

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The Boys and Girls Club of the Northland received the 210-by-120-foot turf for indoor youth activities through the efforts of the Minnesota Vikings,

National Football League and the Duluth Local Initiative Support Council in 2008. The Heritage Sports Center has managed the turf and its programming since then. But the turf has been available for use only from April to September, when ice is put down in Seitz Arena. The DECC will have the turf available from November to March.

Because the turf can be removed and installed quickly, Pioneer Hall will remain available for other users, such as a sports show or the Festival of Trees.

Pioneer Park will be open seven days a week until as late as midnight. Members of the Boys and Girls Club will have free access to the park at various times of the day; there will be hourly charges of $100 to $120 for other groups. The Duluth Amateur Soccer League has a preliminary agreement to use Pioneer Park at least 250 hours for league play.

Mayor Don Ness joked that the UMD football team could use Pioneer Park to practice for "its third national championship."

A new entrance to Pioneer Park is being built across from the William A. Irvin to provide direct access from the DECC parking lot.

The partners will review the success of Pioneer Park next year to determine if it will continue in future years.

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