Players compete during the Ramadan soccer tournament in April 2023 at the Ingersoll Arena Turf Facility at 48 Pettengill Park in Auburn. Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline is forming a committee to explore developing an indoor turf facility in Lewiston. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — A committee formed by Mayor Carl Sheline will explore the potential for developing an indoor turf facility in Lewiston.

The announcement of the ad hoc committee comes after Sheline called for increasing recreational access and opportunities during his inaugural address Tuesday.

Sheline said there has been a lot of community conversation recently about recreational fields, but that the Indoor Turf Facility Committee will “unify the community conversation on having an indoor facility so we can make some progress.” He said making it a mayoral ad hoc committee will allow for a wide range of stakeholders to be involved and will make the discussions a public process.

The makeup of the 15-member committee will include co-chairpersons Hannah Conkin, the youth programs supervisor at Maine Immigrant & Refugee Services, and Osman Bashir, a local soccer coach.

It will also feature local officials, including Superintendent of Schools Jake Langlais and Athletic Director Jason Fuller, Recreation Director Nicole Welch, and City Administrator Heather Hunter. Bakar Ibrahim, a Lewiston youth soccer player, will also serve on the committee.

Conkin said Friday that the demand for an indoor turf facility is there, and that it could serve local youth who are “in need of indoor space to enjoy and play in throughout the year.”


“There are a lot of youth, especially those that play soccer, who don’t always have ready access to indoor spaces during the winter months and beyond,” she said. “With a new turf facility in Lewiston, youth would have another place in the community that is safe and accessible to them, encouraging continued participation in the sports they love.”

Auburn’s Ingersoll Arena Turf Facility at 48 Pettengill Park, which hosts local leagues and tournaments, is the only similar municipal building in the region.

Sheline said there are countless Lewiston community soccer teams beyond the school teams, with demand “through the roof.” He said scheduling an indoor slot locally can be difficult, with Lewiston players often having to play in Portland.

“We need to give our youth soccer players the chance to play year round, and where they live,” he said. “It keeps kids off the street and allows kids to develop their game year round.”

During the inauguration Tuesday, Sheline said Lewiston needs to “redouble our efforts to increase access to Lewiston Recreation and our sports fields,” adding that the city is overdue for an indoor turf facility.

The previous council spent several meetings debating changes to rules surrounding the use of city athletic fields in the wake of continued vandalism. Sheline was among those that argued the city should not cut off public access to the turf fields at the Franklin Pasture complex.


In October, the City Council voted to close the Franklin Pasture fields to the public, but also approved a new position that is meant to handle rental scheduling, volunteer programs, and community outreach. On Friday, Recreation Director Nicole Welch said the city has hired someone for the role and they will be starting at the end of the month.

The new ad hoc committee will discuss what a potential facility could look like, potential locations and possible funding sources. When plans progress, Sheline said there’s potential the committee could turn into the building committee for the project.

Sheline said a facility could have the potential to include community center type elements as well.

“There are currently funding sources available, and this facility would be a game-changer for our community,” he said.

Sheline is hoping the committee can convene its first meeting before the end of the month.

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