By Collin Gallant on March 2, 2017.
A group of prominent businessmen and minor hockey administrators tells the News they are putting together a proposal to keep the Medicine Hat Arena open, but under its management, not ownership.
Bill Yuill, the head of Monarch Corporation and the owner of several minor-professional hockey teams, is the acting chair of the Save the Arena Committee that wants to eventually form a non-profit entity to manage the rink.
Senior city administrators had no immediate reaction to the announcement.
According to a release sent out Thursday, the group wants take over 4,000-seat facility in the north Flats that is set to close as a cost-cutting measure this summer.
As well, it’s proposal may also include the two sheet Kinplex at the Medicine Hat Stampede Grounds.
The group would manage them “for the benefit of various local hockey and other user groups.”
It would also “work to mitigate the financial exposure to the city regarding the operating costs associated with these facilities.”
Those costs could total more than $1 million per year in operating losses, according to city documents.
Also on the committee are retired investment dealer Gerald Freedman and Kent Smith, the head of the Smith Group financial planners in Medicine Hat.
Listed as well are Terry Bartman, of the South East Athletic Club, Nick Douvis, a local dentist who is minor hockey’s chief tournament organizer, and Kris Schultz, the president of the local minor hockey association.
In December, Medicine Hat city council voted to close the 46-year-old building that had been used as a community ice surface since the Western Hoceky League Tigers moved to the Canalta Centre.
However, Douvis said at the time that it would hurt minor hockey and the ability to host major tournaments.
Administrators and councillors said that a $700,000 per year operating loss too much considering the city’s current budget constraints. It also avoided the need for more than $1 million in planned maintenanace work.
Officials vowed to work with hockey and other user groups, such as ringette and figure skating, to accommodate them at the city’s five community rinks as well as some ice time at the Canalta Centre.
According to a city report the two-sheet Kinplex recovers about half its total expenses each year, but still operates at a $364,000 annual deficit.
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