David Staples: Northwest sportsplex could work for taxpayers and minor hockey

The unicorn of Edmonton minor hockey is to find an early evening practice slot Monday to Friday for your team.

Edmonton has too many teams clamouring for practice ice and too few arenas to provide it. It’s next to impossible to rent extra ice at that time.

But a group of Edmonton hockey and business leaders led by Matt Bachewich, president of the non-profit group Active Communities Alberta, are working to raise funds to build a new Sports and Wellness Campus with four ice sheets in northwest Edmonton.

Bachewich’s group is in discussions with the cities of St. Albert and Edmonton, as well as the province, to build a new regional sportsplex. It would also include two large gyms, meeting and office space, a fitness centre and a daycare. It would be located where the Anthony Henday intersects with 137 Avenue.

The main reason to look twice at this plan is Bachewich’s assertion that it would provide excellent value for taxpayers. He pegs the construction price at a reasonable $60 million to $65 million. The non-profit would also operate the facility more efficiently than a city-operated facility, he says.

St. Albert badly needs a new rink, with its teams already buying 60 per cent of their ice time outside of the community, Bachewich says. City council there has earmarked $20 million for new ice, money which could go to this project.

Common practice in Calgary

The practice of a non-profit organization building and operating an arena is common in Calgary, Bachewich says, with 38 of the Calgary region’s 60 arenas run by not-for-profit groups. In Edmonton, he says, five rinks are private, five not-for-profit (most notably the Kinsmen twin arenas), but the city owns and operates the vast majority of arenas, 3o out of 40.

Based on its population, Edmonton will be short about eight …read more

Source:: Edmonton Journal

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