The Facebook page is rolling, the fluorescent-yellow posters are going up, and the petition is making the rounds. The only thing three would-be Winnipeg entrepreneurs and lovers of roller skating need now is the Vimy Arena, and if passion leads to success they just might get it.
Sheryl Corrin and her husband Ron Corrin have joined forces with former Galaxy Skateland owner Andre Atkinson on a mission to create what they call a "world class family roller skating centre" in Winnipeg.
They’ve set their sights on the Vimy Arena, which is due to be decommissioned in 2014 when new multiplexes are built.
"I’m just a girl that just wants to skate, and I just know that there’s tons of people out there that do too," said Sheryl, who’s been busy sending emails to councillors and talking to Mayor Sam Katz on a radio show.
"The mayor said, ‘is it a possibility to translate the Vimy Arena into a roller skating rink? Absolutely it is.’"
Sheryl says the radio show host – Richard Cloutier – told her she should start a Facebook page to gauge public interest. "And in the background, if you listen, you can hear the mayor saying ‘city councillor, city councillor,’ and then Cloutier said, ‘and contact your city councillor.’"
And so, they’ve done both. And they created posters. And a petition.
The Facebook page – titled Proposed World Class Family Roller Skating Centre in Winnipeg – was started on March 13. By Easter Sunday, it had more than 175 likes, and a posting said their petition had 200 signatures.
In the next few days they’ll be meeting with Coun. Scott Fielding, chair of the cities Protection and Community Services Committee.
"It sounds like an interesting idea, but we’re just not at a stage where we can say we’ll do one thing or another," Fielding said.
Prior to any decision, Fielding said, the city would likely put out a call for proposals. Any money the city could get from selling the arena, which sits on prime land next to the Sturgeon Creek Parkway, is mandated to be reinvested in the community, he said.
"We want to have a fair process where we get proposals. This one sounds interesting," Fielding said.
In truth, there is no formal proposal yet, though Sheryl says they have some investors interested who she would characterize as having deep pockets. She admits they don’t know how much it would cost to upgrade the arena, which the city has reported is in the worst condition of the 15 arenas they own.
Atkinson, for his part, says they would have no problem transforming and operating the arena profitably as a roller rink, if the city gave it to them.
"It’s a build it and they will come kind of thing…my (old) customers would go crazy. For the first five years you’d never get them all in."
Given that he owned Galaxy from 1990 until 2007, his word might carry some weight. And, he says, Galaxy was profitable and would still be going if the University of Winnipeg hadn’t needed the land for an expansion.
"Oh yeah, that’s all it was. I was doing OK."