Image of old arena melting away as questions raised over future

By Ashley Wiebe
June 19, 2018 - 4:35pm Updated: June 19, 2018 - 7:27pm

 

MEDICINE HAT, AB — The fate of The Arena has re-emerged at City Hall.

The building has sat empty since July 2017 after council voted to close the building, saying it would cost too much to keep operational.

The Land and Business Support Division made a presentation to councillors on Monday night and questions were raised again about what to do with the facility and if demolition is the right way to go.

City staff have been working with interested parties behind the scenes, trying to figure out a solution for the property.

Mayor Ted Clugston said they’re still in the negotiation process.

One group who made their voices heard last year was the Save the Arena Committee.

Clugston said the group has been quiet and he hasn’t heard much.

CHAT News reached out to two of the members to see what plans they have in place but didn’t hear back by our deadline.

Clugston said there hasn’t been a final say on what should happen with the old arena, but tearing it down isn’t off the table yet.

“We’re doing an assessment but I can honestly assure you that that decision has not been made,” he said. “I’m not saying it’s not going to be made. It will come to council, whether or not to knock it down and, of course, somebody even who buys the land may decide to knock it down at their own expense.”

Clugston said even keeping The Arena closed, as it has been for nearly a year, is costing taxpayers money, but even he admits it would be hard to see the building go.

“One of my first memories with my father was actually going to a Tigers game, so I mean, there’s a lot of people in this community that hold that place near and dear and were it to be disposed of, it would be really hard for a lot of citizens,” he said. “I get it.”

He says he believes residents have finally accepted the Canalta Centre as home ice.

Clugston went on to add that there could be some exciting development from the land where The Arena currently sits, even being developed into condos or townhouses along the river, but even he has some reservations about any long-term plans.

“I’m having a real hard time with even knocking it down,” he said. “My biggest fear is that we knock down the old arena and then we have an assessment four years from now that says we need more ice, more sheets of ice in this community, and go ‘oh, maybe we shouldn’t have knocked down The Arena’.”

Clugston adds that no decisions can be made about The Arena without first being passed by council.

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