Sunday, June 14, 2009


I'm surprised that there hasn't been more written in the blogosphere about this project to build this arena complex.

With all the federal funds being thrown out there, the Chipman family stepped up with a project that is supposed to be shovel ready. The arena multiplex is costed out at $25 million and will be 172,000 square feet. It will consist of four NHL surface size rinks with 20 dressing rooms. An additonal 30,000 square feet will house Hockey Manitoba, Hockey Canada and True North offices as well as a high performance training center. One of the rinks will have seating for 1,500 fans. A restaurant, pro shop and concession area is listed in the specs.

The project will cost $25 million. The Chipmans will contribute $13.2 million and the feds and the province will contribute $5.9 million each for a total of $11.8 million.

According to the Chipmans, the building with become on of only three high performance centers for hockey training in Canada, the other two being Toronto and Calgary.

The opening of the Mooseplex is set for 2010 and the Chipmans have indicated they will bid World Under-17 Hockey Championship for two consecutive years to coincide with competition. This Canadian tournament also has international teams participation and many future stars of the NHL show their stuff.

My suggestion is that the Chipmans should also bid on the IIHF World Under-18 Championships since they have never been played in Canada. In 2009, they were played in Fargo, North Dakota.

The Fargo U18 games were played out of two buildings: Moorhead Arena and Urban Plains Center. The Urban Plains Center is a 5000 seat arena where the Fargo Force pro team plays and the Moorhead Arena is a two rink facility that is where high school and college teams play.

It is obvious that if Fargo could carry off the U18 games, Winnipeg could as well.

There were hints that there may be additional announcements of arenas in the city. I'd be interested to know if the University of Winnipeg might be one of those announcements.

The University of Manitoba has the Max Bell Center for hockey. It would be good for the University of Winnipeg had its own version.

The merits of a university arena are seen in Grand Forks, North Dakota where the Ralph Engelstad Arena has become the centerpiece of a large development around the University of North Dakota. It is unlikely that we'd see a $100 million private donation the likes of UND got to start their arena but it is possible that the University of Winnipeg could get a quarter of that if they teamed up with the school divisions and private donors. Who knows.

The Mooseplex will be an interesting and welcome addition to the city. The one problem I see is that it pushes the boundaries of the city right to western limit. The arena location by Point West Autopark, Red River Ex and Assiniboia Downs might trigger more development just outside of the city. The province should be wary of letting exurbia growth going wild. The Trans-Canada through Headingley is already dangerously busy with businesses alongside the road.

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