Don't call it the Mooseplex. The temporary name given to the True North facility is out and "MTS Iceplex" is in.
With the grand opening still more than four months away, the city's newest hot spot for hockey fanatics is shaping up and has a new name. It's the latest partnership between True North Sports & Entertainment and MTS Allstream.
The city's newest hockey hub — a 172,000-square-foot multiplex facility that features four NHL regulation-sized ice rinks — is under construction just outside the perimeter, at Portage Avenue.
"The idea, with these kind of complexes in a cluster, it's all under one roof," said Jim Ludlow, president and CEO of True North Sports & Entertainment. "It is what you do see in other cities now. It's new for Winnipeg."
The MTS Iceplex is due to open Aug. 15, just in time for the 2010-11 hockey season.
The two-level multiplex comes with a price tag of $27 million. About $11.5 million is coming from the federal and Manitoba governments, with the bulk from private sources led by Mark Chipman, chairman of True North, which owns and operates the MTS Centre.
Once finished, little skaters donning Timbits minor hockey jerseys might use the ice one day, while the AHL's Manitoba Moose might use the very same surface the next.
"The MTS Iceplex will add over 23,000 hours of ice time available," said Jim Rondeau, Manitoba's minister of healthy living. "It will be used by 12,000 players. It will hopefully enhance the facilities to get more people excited about winter sports."
The developers promise community access.
"Right now with the shortage of rinks that we do have, a lot of kids that are playing minor hockey have to travel outside of the city in a lot of cases, to get access to ice," said Rick Bochinski, general manager of the Iceplex. "We'll help to hopefully resolve some of that situation."
The new arenas will give the Moose space to practise. The team often runs into time issues when an event is slated at the MTS Centre.
The Iceplex will also be home to the Manitoba Junior Hockey League's Winnipeg Blues. Both the Moose and Blues will have bigger dressing rooms with offices and athletic training facilities.
The project and its new name also lead some to wonder if this is another step toward a return of NHL hockey to Winnipeg, although those involved were tight-lipped Friday when it came to the matter.
Each of the four arenas will have a corporate naming partner. The names and logos of the Winnipeg Free Press, Red River Co-op, Assiniboine Credit Union and RE/MAX Realtors will be displayed beside the shiny new ice sheets.
"We think that the MTS Iceplex is a great addition to Winnipeg, a much-needed facility, that will become a marquee spot for hockey development in a hockey-mad city," said Bob Cox, Free Press publisher. "The Winnipeg Free Press has a good association with True North at the MTS Centre and getting involved at the Iceplex was a natural extension of our relationship."
The facility's Canada Centre of Excellence designation allows the MTS Iceplex to use Hockey Canada programming, brand and learning tools.
Builders say the Iceplex promises to be an environmentally friendly building, as well.
As part of the agreement, MTS will provide advanced communications services to the facility, including improved wireless coverage for inside the facility, Wi-Fi for Internet access and MTS Ultimate TV service.
Lord of the rinks
The 172,000-square-foot, two-level complex will feature:
four hockey rinks, including one with a seating capacity of 1,500
22 dressing rooms
four officials' rooms
licensed restaurant and lounge with ice views
full service pro shop
Wi-Fi Internet access
off-ice high performance training centre