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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Three options for new Canberra ice sports centre

A replacement for Canberra’s beloved, albeit outdated, Phillip Ice Skating Rink is a step closer after the ACT Government released an options paper outlining three possibilities for the future of ice sports in the Territory and surrounding regions.

With more than two years of work invested in it, the Ice Sports Facility Options Analysis Report presents a detailed analysis of three options: a single-sheet ice rink, and single- and double-storey twin-sheet facility options with various spectator capacities of up to 2,500 people, and estimated construction costs of $20-$35 million depending on the option.

The report looked at how big the rink (or rinks) would need to be, the size of the parcel of land required, facility program requirements, capital cost, operating costs and potential funding scenarios.

The scope of the report did not include site identification analysis or an assessment to any future implications a new facility may have for the existing Phillip ice skating facility.

ACT Ice Sports Federation president, Tony Prescott, said the report represents great strides being made toward a new national ice sports centre in Canberra.

“One key element of this process has been the government and the federation’s agreement on the importance of private sector involvement in what will be a major piece of leisure and sport entertainment infrastructure in the nation’s capital.

While one of the options presented is a single-sheet facility, Mr Prescott said a twin-sheet centre makes the most sense given demand.

“There is insufficient ice time for the existing competition across ice hockey, figure skating and broomball.

“With projected growth of more than 10% year on year, along with an expansion into speed skating, curling, and Paralympic ice sports such as sled hockey, a new twin-sheet ice sports facility is desperately needed.”

Warren Apps, director of CBR Brave, the local Australian Ice Hockey League team, 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.”

Mr Apps said while the ‘Brave Cave’ (Phillip Ice Skating Rink) 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 Prescott said a new Canberra ice sports centre is on track to be operational in 2020 following a process of community consultation, planning and design.

The government is due to open an Expression of Interest (EOI) process in early 2019 seeking interest from suitably qualified and experienced parties to design, construct, operate and maintain a new ice sports facility in the ACT.

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