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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

New facility plans on ice no longer

Anyone who’s grown up in Canberra or visited on a school trip have probably strapped on the skates at Phillip Ice Skating Centre at some point.

It’s been a part of Canberra since 1980, and with the demand for ice sports in the region growing significantly, the community feel it’s time for an upgrade.

ACT Ice Sports Federation (ACTISF) President Tony Prescott told Canberra Weekly he’s had a fruitful working relationship with the sports that comprise the Federation and the ACT Government on the project.

“We’re advocating for a national ice sports centre and what we envisage is a twin-sheet (two rinks in the one facility) facility,” he said.

Mr Prescott sees new facilities as a great way to expand the sports available and to boost participation, especially in the juniors, women’s and disabled competitions.

Canberra’s current ice sports offerings comprise broomball, figure skating and ice hockey.

“Build it and they will come, that’s our view. And we know now that the numbers stack up significantly,” he said.

Warren Apps, director of CBR Brave, the 2018 Australian Ice Hockey League premiers, told Canberra Weekly a twin-sheet facility would offer them additional ice time and allow them to expand their training program.

At the moment they only get two hours of on-ice training per week.

“We could include more players from our academy program, which are the junior players on the fringe of joining the core squad.”

He said while the ‘Brave Cave’ gives his team a unique, cauldron-like atmosphere, it’s undoubtedly limiting their growth.

“A modern facility with more family-friendly facilities would allow us to get a significant uplift on our attendance.

“We have fans who don’t come along because they’d have to wait for a few hours outside to ensure they’ll get a seat.

“Ultimately, all of those things bring us back to one key benefit, and that is sustainability,” he said.

Mr Apps said despite his desire for change, the Phillip ice rink has served the team very well.

“The Brave Cave has become a part of who we are … but we’re also realistic about the fact it is at the end of its life and that our franchise is at the point where we could really achieve some significant growth with a new facility.”

The ACT Government’s Option Study Paper on a new ice sports facility is due to be handed down later this year.

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