Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Principal favours arena proposal

Says it could revive hockey at Grant Park

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A plan to replace Charles A. Barbour Arena with a twin-plex could spark the return of high school hockey to Grant Park High School.

Yale Chochinov, the school's principal, believes if the proposal to the city by the Corydon Community Centre comes to fruition sometime in 2014 or 2015, he would see greater interest in high school hockey among his Grade 7 to Grade 12 students.

Grant Park hasn't fielded a team in the Winnipeg High School Hockey League since the 2008-09 academic year.

Chochinov hopes the allure of high school hockey at a new facility could persuade some student athletes to come to Grant Park instead of other schools.

Grant Park already has a partnership agreement with the city that allows it to use the Pan Am Pool in conjuction with its phys-ed and healthy-lifestyle programs.

"The pool draws students to Grant Park who are active in water polo, speed swimming, synchronized swimming and diving. We have a lot of students who come here specifically because they're involved in those sports. It's very convenient for them," he said.

Grant Park rents ice on Monday nights at Charles A. Barbour for students, faculty and alumni to play pickup hockey.

"It would be a bonus to have a couple of rinks next door. It would be beneficial for the school," Chochinov said.

The community centre's plan calls for a $15-million twin-plex south of the 50-year-old Barbour arena on what is now a mini-soccer pitch.

Pat O'Connor, president of the Corydon centre, which runs the River Heights, Sir John Franklin and Crescentwood community centres, said his board has commissioned diagrams on what the facility could look like. He said funding is the big issue, but the board is working on that with the city.

"We've done the financials to know we can support some of our own debt. We'd go to the bank, too, and we'd be looking to the community for help. The mix of all those numbers is a work in progress now," he said.

Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz said the Corydon centre's proposal is worthy of discussion, but it's not No. 1 when it comes to arena-development plans.

"It's just in the embryonic stage," Katz told reporters Wednesday.

In October 2011, the city put out a call to community groups or private businesses interested in building new ice-skating multiplexes or adding ice sheets to existing facilities. That request for proposals yielded eight responses, all rejected by the city.

In November 2012, community services director Clive Wightman said the proposals did not make financial sense for the city, but two were good enough to merit further discussions. Katz said talks are continuing with those two groups, but declined to identify them.


-- with files from Bartley Kives

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 7, 2013 B2

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