Dalhousie arena to be demolished

The Dalhousie Memorial Arena will be torn down in April.

“We determined… the arena wasn’t going to be able to stay in its current configuration,” said Alex Walker, Dalhousie’s Director of Projects.

The decision to tear the rink down instead of trying to fix it up was based on cost effectiveness.

Ken Burt, Vice President of Administration of Dalhousie University said, “You can build an arena for as little as $7 to $8 million dollars. It would be $4 million to fix the roof and then you’d have to add changing rooms cause they don’t have changing rooms in the current arena. So that’s what bumps it up to $12 million dollars.”

“You can have a lot of money to have something old, or you can take it down and build something new that has all the proper sustainability features built into it,” said Burt. “We can do solar heating, we will have the opportunity to take the heat that’s generated out of the ice manufacturing process and use it to heat the other parts of the building.”

Shawn Fraser the Senior Manager of Programs for Dalhousie describes it as “short-term pain for a long-term gain.”The university’s varsity hockey programs, as well as its recreational figure skating, ringette, shinny student hockey, intramural hockey and broomball sports clubs will all be affected by the loss of a rink.

He said, “the interruption to the program and the access to the space for students is my biggest concern, I’ve been trying to bridge that gap but the fact that we’ll have a new and upgraded arena in not too many years is a significant plus.”

There has been talk that the Halifax Forum may take on many of the programs that are usually at the Memorial Arena. Fraser said, “it’s more of a concern around the availability of ice. We’re not able to take our entire operational program to the Forum, just because there isn’t enough time available.”

Spokesman for the university, Charles Crosby, says that they’ve been working hard to get their other programs relocated to different places.

The varsity hockey teams have secured their interim space. Men’s Hockey Head Coach Pete Belliveau said, “we’ve signed a contract with the Halifax Forum and we’re in the process of building ourselves a dressing room.” It’s likely the women’s team will practice at the Forum and play in the Metro Centre.

Coach Belliveau, although sad to see the old rink go, welcomes the idea of a new facility.

In terms of how long it will be until a new rink can be built, it appears this depends on which option is chosen. “Whether it be a partnership with SMU, that’s probably a longer term option, because we have to get the city on board, we’ve had some preliminary discussions with the city and there is some interest in the community for the two university’s coming together for a varsity arena concept which would neither be branded Dal or SMU, but would be branded varsity,” said Burt. “I think that if we were building on the Eliza Richie site south of South St., we could actually begin building that this year. It would be an 18-month process so we would begin in January and it would be ready for September of 2014.”

Dalhousie is in the middle of a $250 million dollar fundraising campaign. It has raised $200 million dollars in the past four years. A portion of this money would be spent to build a new arena.

Originally published by Peninsula News

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