The end of an era: The Medicine Hat Arena officially closes

By Leah Murray
July 31, 2017 - 5:30pm Updated: July 31, 2017 - 7:38pm


MEDICINE HAT, AB — All the organizations that took up space in the Medicine Hat Arena after the Tigers made their move to the Canalta Centre, are on the move again.

The Arena officially closed this month and both the SEAC Tigers and the Medicine Hat Minor Hockey Association have had to find new homes.

Earlier this year, Medicine Hat city council decided to close the building. Councillors say it was expected that once the Canalta Centre opened, the old arena would close down because the operating costs would be too high.

“I played some great games here, and had lots of history here,” said Councillor Brian Varga, who played with the Western Hockey League’s Regina Pats, as well as the Tigers. “But, unfortunately with the economic times and how much it costs to run a facility that's 45 years old, it's tough to keep going.”

The Save The Arena committee was formed in hopes of saving the building, but so far the group says there’s been no progress or meetings with the city.

The Arena opened in 1970 and was home to the Tigers until 2015 when Canalta Centre opened.

Several user groups were concerned about the impending closure and the impact it would have on ice time in the city.

The Medicine Hat Minor Hockey Association told CHAT News over the phone that they’ve managed to secure the ice time they need, even holding practices at the Canalta Centre, but the group did say expanding the league would be difficult without more ice.

The Medicine Hat Ringette Association said they’ve also been able to find the ice time they need.

“We adjusted quite well to be honest with you, and some of that is because the City of Medicine Hat did a really good job of finding ice for everybody that was kind of put out because of the Arena,” said Guy Lanigan with the Ringette Association.

The group has dropped the number of tournaments down to one. They used to have one in December and one in February, but now they will only hold the one in December. Lanigan said it had nothing to do with ice time though.

“It’s just easier for us as a volunteer base, it’s easier for our teams, it’s easier to get officials on weekends,” he explained.

The association is looking for more members to join and says they have plenty of ice time, great training opportunities, good pricing and not as much travelling as some people think there will be.

As for what will happen with the Arena, that’s still up in the air.

The city is currently conducting a number of assessments including structural and environmental, before actively seeking any expression of interest proposals.

“You've got this site that has a lot of impact on its surroundings so we're trying to figure out how that all rationalizes out in the future as well,” said urban development engineer John Bulmer.

City staff will provide an update to City Council on the arena disposition process sometime this fall.

In the meantime the doors of the Medicine Hat Arena will remain locked.

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