Fort Smith Centennial Arena
City: Fort Smith
Published on: May 29, 2013, 11:21 a.m.
Nominated by: Pam WalshWatch the TSN SportsCentre broadcast >
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Fort Smith Centennial Arena
We are a small northern magnet community of ~ 2500 people, of which much of our population uses the arena in our community in the fall, winter and early spring for hockey, figure skating and speed skating. On May 13th, 2013, in the early hours of the morning, a fire broke out in our arena, causing fire damage and water damage to a large portion of the arena. The damages are estimated at this point to be ~1.6 million dollars, but the final report has not been received. Most likely, we will not be able to use the arena for the 2013-14 season, and maybe longer. On May 28th, a group of concerned citizens, representatives of the six user groups in the community, and members of the town council met to strategize possible solutions for next season. At this point our best scenario is to build outdoor temporary arenas and provide temporary heated structures for warmth, and washrooms. This venture would not be inexpensive either. We are investigating the cost to put a dome like structure over an outdoor arena, but this can run upwards to $250 000 or more. If we were awarded one of the prizes of $25 000, the money would go towards supporting the costs incurred to provide a temporary solution, that could be needed for up to three years. Whatever we build for temporary solutions would most likely also be used on a more permanent basis as an ongoing support facility once the arena is rebuilt.
Fort Smith is a tight knit community that also serves many other communities in the north, since we are the home of the only Northern college, Aurora College and people travel from various communities across the north during the winter months to go to college, often bringing their children with them. The Fort Smith Centennial Arena has been home to the main source of recreation, community spirit, and enjoyment for over 40 years. From early October to late March, this facility is used constantly, Sunday to Saturday, playing host to many tournaments, skating competitions, ice dance clinics and test days. The prospect of not having an arena next year is devastating to our community. The possibility of accessing temporary facilities will ensure that we can keep the love of winter sports like hockey, figure skating, and speed skating alive in our community. There are not a lot of other activities available for young and old in our community so to lose something that plays such an integral role is a great blow to our community. We would appreciate any help that can be offered to our community to help keep our community spirit alive and keep our youth active.