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Twin-plex arena in the works

Corydon group eyes Grant Park site for project

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The Corydon Community Centre has made a proposal to take over one of the oldest city-owned arenas in town and replace it with a twin-plex.

The target is the Charles A. Barbour Arena, formerly known as the Grant Park Arena, in Crescentwood.

The CCC's plan is to build an approximately $15-million complex adjacent to the 50-year-old rink on the south side on what is now a mini-soccer pitch.

Pat O'Connor, president of CCC, said his board has been looking at this possibility for a couple of years and is excited about the prospects.

"We're in the planning stages now and looking at drawings. We want to be ready if the city were to give us the green light. Realistically, it's a 12-month project to build. We're hoping to have something up there in the 2014-2015 time frame," O'Connor said.

O'Connor said, as a community group, CCC wants to maintain as much green space as possible, so it doesn't want to build more than two rinks, even though a significant number of city-owned rinks could easily be retired.

"The look and design (of the rink) would have to be approved by the residents. User groups would be part of the discussions," he said, adding he would want to sit down with soccer officials to address their concerns, too.

Peter Woods, executive director of Hockey Manitoba, wrote a letter of support for the CCC plan in mid-2010. He said a number of city-owned arenas, including Old Ex and Sargent Park, have served their purpose.

"They're not even full-sized rinks, which restricts the kind of hockey you can play there. They're a bit challenged putting anything bantam and up there. Those rinks have a small neutral zone and they're only 185 feet long (compared to 200 feet for a standard rink)," he said.

The off-ice amenities aren't any better, with communal washrooms for male and female players and the public, as well as cramped dressing rooms

"I applaud (the CCC board). They're taking the initiative. Any time you're addressing a facility need which is essential for the game to progress, that's really good news," Woods said.

The CCC plans have no doubt been influenced by the success of the four-rink MTS Iceplex and a small handful of other newer facilities that feature more than one ice surface.

The CCC focus will be on meeting the needs of youth hockey, not beer-leaguers, because that's where the greatest community need lies, O'Connor said.

If the CCC plan is successful, Charles A. Barbour will become the fourth facility under its umbrella, joining the River Heights, Sir John Franklin and Crescentwood community clubs.

O'Connor said contrary to some rumours, his board does not want to replace its only other indoor rink at River Heights.

It has received a grant from Western Diversification to cover half of the costs of upgrading the ice plant with a new condenser. O'Connor said other plans include a new heat-recovery system and readjusting the rink's boards, some of which have tilted with time. In all, it probably needs about $2 million in upgrades to position it for the next 50 years, he said.

"Everybody was nervous we were going to close River Heights. That's not the point at all. We want to fix it. It's such a beautiful barn," he said.

O'Connor said the CCC proposal would also incorporate a programmable area for seniors, making sure to avoid duplication of services available at the nearby Pan Am Pool.

"When you build a twin rink, there's extra space that can be created for potential revenue-generating programs that would help us cover costs," he said.

A spokeswoman for the City of Winnipeg declined to comment on the CCC proposal.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 5, 2013 B1

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