A longtime Transcona arena is set to be shuttered.
After announcing on Feb. 21 that a third rink is coming to East End Community Centre for the 2014-15 season, the City of Winnipeg plans to close the Roland Michener Arena at 1121 Wabasha St. The land would then be rezoned and sold to developers, with the money generated going back into the $5.5-million Transcona Pool Spray Park project. Coun. Russ Wyatt (Transcona) said the site would be rezoned as multifamily housing, "ideally seniors housing".
Wyatt explained that the sale of the arena site would help fund the $5.5-million pool project, which would help refurbish the site with change room improvements, an expanded splash pad, beach entry to the pool, a lazy river, waterslides and a picnic area.
Wyatt said the cost of repairing the current arena could run between $6.5 and $8-million, while the East End project will cost in the $9-million range and will be split evenly between the city, the province, and the community centre.
"You’re getting more value for your money because it’s a new facility, it lasts longer, it’s more modern, and it’s up to today’s standards," he said.
Wyatt said the soccer field and the baseball diamond by Kildare Avenue East will remain, and there will be a conscious effort to keep green space at the site.
East St. Paul figure skating parent Monica Groth doesn’t expect to be overly impacted by the closure, as her daughter’s Skate Winnipeg group snaps up ice wherever it can find it. She hopes the new site will allow for, at the very least, the same amount of ice time to be available.
"Figure skating always loses ice to hockey. It’s an unwritten thing," she said. "As long as we don’t lose our ice time, that’s the biggest thing."
The Manitoba Gryphons Junior B lacrosse team is one group that believes the arena can still be viable. Team business manager Scott Kinnear said the team has had informal discussions with city officials about turning the arena into a year-round lacrosse training facility to help grow the game in Manitoba and beyond. He hopes to begin more serious discussions soon.
"Some of the players play hockey because lacrosse isn’t available year-round," he said. "We’re looking for something that makes sense, and if we acquire the proper partners, whatever that means, we could have all kinds of amenities to have a full-purpose facility for lacrosse.
"Since we’re such a can-do organization, we’re very confident that we would be able to put together an infrastructure able to do something."
Kinnear said while the club is eyeing the Michener site, it would look into other options should the site not be available.
"If we were to look at a vision, what we’d want is something along the lines of what Roland Michener has," he said, noting there is space available to put in a pro shop and wellness centre.
Wyatt said an open house to help determine the site’s future will be held in late March. More details are still to be determined.