Successfully renting an indoor soccer pitch in HRM has been about as unlikely as qualifying for the World Cup.

But that may soon change as HRM prepares to quadruple its indoor soccer facilities.

The province announced yesterday it is putting $3 million toward a new $9.5-million facility. The plan is to expand the Nova Scotia Indoor Soccer Training Centre at Mainland Common in Clayton Park to four fields from one by 2011.

That should help alleviate a large scheduling logjam.

“It is a severe shortage. We have players that want to play that we simply cannot accommodate,” said Soccer Nova Scotia CEO George Athanasiou.

Federal and municipal levels of government have each pledged about $1 million. The remainder is being made up by Soccer NS, which is taking out a $3.5-million mortgage and fundraising.

“There is a lot of demand. If there wasn’t, we would not have embarked to remortgage the house to build this thing,” Athanasiou added.

He estimates the current 3,500 registered players will double when the facility is built. It will also alleviate demand on other sports complexes and allow top players to play on a full-sized field all year long.

Premier Darrell Dexter said yesterday’s announcement wasn’t designed to coincide with the World Cup, but was “somewhat of a happy coincidence.”

“I’m certainly pleased that you have that kind of confluence,” the premier said. “At the very time when people’s consciousness are being raised about this great sport ... we’re also able to make this announcement that is consistent with the way people feel about it.”

Dexter said he hopes the investment will help improve the health of Nova Scotians, who are typically ranked amongst the worst in the country for obesity, diabetes and cancer.

B-Fit exhausted
Yesterday’s announcement almost completely exhausts what’s left of the $67-million B-Fit program that was announced in 2006 and supposed to last 10 years. The NDP say only about $6 million was left when it came into power.