A report going to city council next week recommends repurposing Northlands Coliseum into a hockey centre of excellence.
It proposes four ice sheets, a 200 metre athletic track, dryland training area, classrooms and administrative space to support sport and athlete development.
The cost is proposed at $102 million, based on two estimates Northlands got during its Vision 2020 deliberations.
The facility would have two purposes, the report said, primarily used by sport academies during school hours (8 a.m. – 4 p.m.), with community use during evening and weekends. Hockey Canada intends to collaborate with several other organizations, including the Oilers Entertainment Group, to help support the capital and operating costs of this proposal.
READ MORE: Northlands releases Vision2020 plan
The idea of a national training centre for Hockey Canada was first broached by the Oilers’ Bob Nicholson over a year ago.
“Bob and I have had a fantastic set of ongoing discussions about the possibilities here and I think if this happens it will be in no small part because of Bob’s support and creativity and connections,” Mayor Don Iveson told reporters.
IN PHOTOS: Northlands Vision 2020
The proposal that will be reviewed by city council on Tuesday calls for spending $2.85 million on putting together a business plan and developing schematics. Iveson said that work will have to be done before the city or Hockey Canada can go out to the marketplace to try to drum up sponsorship for the building.
“Once you have a program for the building you can understand who would benefit by would someone be interested in naming rights? What would those be worth? Until you actually know what you’re naming you can’t go out there and test a market for that. So I do think there are creative ways to raise some partner support for this project.”
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The report also proposed taking four single-sheet arenas out of the city’s inventory because they would be at the end of their life-cycle. Seven are nominated. Oliver, Westwood, Crestwood, Coronation, Tipton and George S Hughes, while Russ Barnes, “located on the east side of Wayne Gretzky Drive, is in close proximity to the Coliseum and should also be considered,” the report said.
“If we do consolidate from some aging facilities then there’s some cost savings there that we can put towards it,” Iveson agreed. “And then if there’s a gap of some amount of money that we’d have to spend to build new rinks somewhere else as part of our longer term arena strategy then maybe council can fit it into the next infrastructure cycle.”
The report values that cost savings at $35 million.
“OEG will have to sign off under the master agreement to the repurpose but my sense is their real concern was with the venue becoming an entertainment centre as competition particularly for concerts or for other team sports being played on a professional basis.”
The report is going to council Tuesday.