West Kildonan Memorial Arena has been the site of thousands of hockey games over the years — and it’s beginning to show.
The arena, which is operated by the West Kildonan Memorial Community Centre, is in serious need of upgrades, said Bryan Huen, current president of the centre’s board of directors.
Huen said a new floor needs to be installed and the arena’s bleachers need to be repaired.
"The flooring is in bad shape. We do put recycled rubber in there now, and it works pretty good, but we want something a little more professional," Huen said.
The arena’s washroom facilities and dressing rooms also need updating, he said.
In addition, the building needs to be made more wheelchair accessible, according to Huen. He said the club currently improvises by using a ramp from its ice resurfacer.
Katie Resch, a board member who’s spearheading fundraising efforts to pay for improvements to the arena, agreed the floor and bleacher upgrades are a top priority. Resch has two boys who play hockey at the club and knows first-hand the current stands can be uncomfortable for spectators.
"I think it’s just time we try to do some fundraising, maybe try to come up with some other ideas as well," she said.
"Right now the biggest priority... is to try to get some money raised to have the flooring redone, and the matting on the benches."
With a significant amount of money to raise, the club recently undertook its first fundraising attempt, entering the Aviva Insurance’s Aviva Community Fund competition online.
Club officials submitted a "large" idea to the competition, with a budget between $100,000 and $150,000. One grand prize will be awarded for that category.
There’s also an extra "broker grand prize" of $150,000 awarded for ideas which have broker support. The West Kildonan Memorial Arena Revitalization Project has two supporting brokers.
Supporters can vote online at http://www.avivacommunityfund.org/ideas/acf14438. The arena also maintains a Facebook page, through which visitors can find a link to the Aviva Fund page.
Round Three of the competition has already started, and supporters have until Nov. 26 to vote online and try to drive the project to the semifinal round. People can vote daily in support of an idea.
Apart from the Aviva Fund proposal, Resch said club officials have yet to develop any further fundraising ideas, although some discussion on it are likely to occur when the board holds its next meeting.
Like many hockey barns across the country, the 42-year-old arena has undergone a lot of changes in the way it is operated. Originally run by the City of Winnipeg, it was later turned over to a board of citizens, who had been running the attached community centre.
Huen said he is proud of the fact the arena has managed to survive without having to amalgamate with other facilities.
"At one point, there were a lot of amalgamations... But we’ve survived as a small community centre, and we’ve done well financially on the committee side of it," he said.
While the club has never made a lot of money, Huen noted it has never lost any either. However, the modest amount of income the arena has generated means upgrades don’t always get done as often as they should.
Over the years, club officials have had to replace expensive equipment such as compressors and condensors, but Huen noted gratefully that the city has "been very helpful" with those costs, which the board wouldn’t be able to manage on its own.