Let’s get ‘er done
After months of uncertainty and debate, it appears as though efforts to replace the decrepit S. W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace may finally be making some real headway.
If you’re a recreational enthusiast in this region, that’s great news.
Town officials confirmed last week that it had reached an agreement with a major bank to borrow up to $3.8 million for its share of the project, squashing suggestions by some that Harbour Grace, a town with a shrinking tax base, would not be able to come up with the money needed without a partnership with neighbouring towns. Efforts to form such a partnership went down in flames late last year.
Mayor Don Coombs went so far as to describe the town’s financial situation last week as very positive, and is as upbeat as ever that the project will proceed.
The town is enthusiastically touting the prospect of a modern arena with two ice surfaces, a walking track, and fixed seating for up to 1,000 people, built on a combination of Crown and private land along Jamie’s Way. It will be administered by a board of directors with representation from throughout the region, but owned outright by the town.
Coombs is hoping the project will cost somewhere in the range of $18 to $19 million, with the town picking up 20 per cent of the cost.
All that’s needed now is a seal of approval from the provincial government, which first announced the project to great fanfare in August 2011. But with the province now sealing off the treasury following revelations that jawdropping deficits are in the offing for the next several years, it’s understandable to question whether the project will be stalled yet again. Coombs is hopeful that it won’t, and let’s hope he’s right.
This facility has the potential to change the sporting landscape in the region, especially if it proceeds with two ice surfaces. For instance, what might it mean for minor hockey in the region? Could it result in more co-operation between CeeBees minor and Bay Arena minor? Almost certainly, since activity levels at the Bay Arena, a very viable “community rink,” are already at their maximum.
A new facility strategically located on Jamie’s Way will also bode well for senior and recreational hockey, the skating club, and may perhaps mean the return of curling to the region.
And who knows? We may see some new businesses spring up along Jamie’s Way. There’s already whispers of this in some circles.
Let’s just hope the town can operate the rink without it being much of a burden to its citizens. To do so, it must maximize usage of the facility, and ensure it hires a manager who can get the job done.
Have no doubt, it’s going to be an interesting few years as this project unfolds.