Time to move up town
Big breakaway for Harbour Grace
Harbour Grace got a big breakaway last week. The town is getting a new arena.
The new facility will replace the aging (53year-old) S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium.
While Harbour Grace was one of three Newfoundland towns where up to $21 million have been made available for such recreation facilities, Mayor Don Coombs told The Compass last week he expects the new arena for the town will run between $12 million and $15 million.
It will be built in the west end of town on a parcel of land at the corner of Harvey Street West and Jamie’s Way. Coombs said the land, which is privately owned, has a For Sale sign on it.
The mayor said the town’s preferred site has also been approved by the provincial government.
Aside from being accessible to residents from all over Conception Bay North via Veterans Memorial Highway, Coombs pointed out it will allow for more parking. That’s been one of the issues with the current stadium site.
“ You can’t get a place to park,” Coombs said, pointing out the stadium yard only holds approximately a hundred vehicles.
“Even when minor hockey tournaments are held here, (Bannerman Street) is blocked.” And when the CBN CeeBee Stars are hosting visiting teams in the senior league, “they’re parked everywhere - up and down Harvey and Water Streets,” the mayor noted.
“It’s time to move up.”
New and old
The new 5,700-square-metre arena will include a 200 by 85-foot ice surface. The ice surface at S.W. Moores measures 190 by 85 feet.
While the town’s original proposal called for a 1,200-seat arena, Coombs said that would be a dream come true. But, according to the mayor it is really too early to tell how many seats the new facility will have, except to say it will be a minimum of around 900.
Whatever the numbers, Coombs was quick to add, “they will all be modern, comfortable seats, and the new facility will have emission controls and be user friendly.”
It will also include a walking track and community meeting room, similar to the multi-purpose room on the second floor of the S.W. Moores Stadium.
An ice-resurfacer room, canteen, first-aid room, public washrooms, ticket booth and facility support space will be included. It will also have change rooms with washrooms and showers, support facilities for minor hockey and figure skating.
The town’s original ambitious proposal had called for the new arena to house the town hall and council chambers. But Mayor Coombs confirmed the town hall will not be part of the new plans.
Council also wanted the new facility to be designed to allow for future expansion to accommodate other sports such as bowling and curling, a sport missing from the town since the closure of the old CBN Curling Club.
Still not ruling out that possibility, Coombs said, “we’ll look at it all when we sit down with
our engineers and government’s engineers.”
Sooner the better!
Asked when citizens can expect to see a start on site preparation for the facility, Coombs said he would like to see it get off the ground as soon as possible. “The sooner the better.” However, the town has to first acquire the land and a lot of planning and engineering work has to take place before any ground can be broken.
From preliminary talks with the town engineer, Coombs said he sees no reason why a start couldn’t be made next spring.
“ We’ll put a board of directors and management team in place to run the facility.” But that’s a while down the road.
For now, Coombs is pleased to see the province approve the funding.
“ These are exciting times!” he exclaimed.”
First artificial ice
Named after Harbour Grace fish merchant Silas Wilmot Moores, the building which once housed Conception Bay’s first artificial ice surface has seen better days. Millions have been poured into renovations, upgrades and retrofits over the past half-century. But Carbonear-Harbour Grace MHA Jerome Kennedy acknowledged in a Compass interview earlier this year, “the 53-year-old arena is showing its age.”
As for the old stadium building, owned by the town of Harbour Grace, Don Coombs is not worried about its fate.
On the day funding for the new arena was announced, Coombs told The Compass he had a call and an offer to purchase the old steelframed building. He declined to say who made the offer. “ While the S.W. Moores Stadium has served our region extremely well, residents of Harbour Grace will certainly welcome this new facility,” Coombs said.
The new stadium will likely have a new name. In this day and age of corporate sponsorship, Coombs didn’t rule out the possibility that some company may be interested in paying to have its name on the building. He said they may also consider running a name-the-new-stadium contest.
“ We’re open to all offers and suggestions,” the mayor said.
The provincial government will cover 80 per cent of the cost of the new arena, while Harbour Grace taxpayers will be responsible for the remaining 20 per cent.
Pointing to Harbour Grace’s long history associated with sport and recreation, particularly hockey, Carbonear-Harbour Grace MHA Jerome Kennedy said, “this arena will further enhance this connection.
“This is an important project for our area, one which will benefit our youth and all those who wish to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle,” the Minister of Health and Community Services said.
Harbour Grace is one of four communities, including Conception Bay South, Paradise and Marystown, which are also getting new recreation facilities at a total cost of $50.6 million.
This site at the corner of Jamie’s Way and Harvey Street West will be the location for the new multi-milliondollar arena to be built in Harbour Grace. Work on the facility is expected to start next year and the building is set to open sometime in 2014.