By MEDICINE HAT NEWS on October 1, 2021.
Staff at Co-op Place are preparing to welcome a large number of fans back to the arena for the first time in 18 months and the first time under a new name.
Officials with the City of Medicine Hat and South Country Co-op held a grand-opening ceremony Friday ahead of the evening’s Medicine Hat Tiger’s season opener in Swift Current against the Broncos.
The city-owned arena, which also became a directly managed facility by the city after contracted manager was released in mid-2020, hosted about 500 fans at each of two exhibition games last month, but larger crowds are expected this weekend.
“We’re really excited to get more fans in the building and show them what we have to offer,” Trampas Brown, the facility’s general manager, said on Friday afternoon.
Mayor Ted Clugston and South Country Co-op officials were on hand for the ribbon cutting to re-announce the naming rights partnership signed one year ago. Terms were not disclosed.
The facility was closed, however, to spectators for the following 2020-21 Western Hockey League season.
Large crowds haven’t been at the building since mid-March 2020 at the onset of the pandemic when all large spectator facilities in the province were ordered closed.
Shortly thereafter, the city announced it would take over operations from contracted provider ASM Global events ahead of the end of the five-year contract in the summer of 2020.
As well, the five-year naming rights contract with Canalta Hotels expired without extension, and both parties on hand Friday said the new partnership would be mutually beneficial.
“The joke is that we hang out too much, because (Co-op) is always around,” said Clugston, who thanks the Canalta Group, and pointed to the co-operative retailer’s other support for Police Point Park upgrades and its general presence in the community.
Co-op general manager Paul Haynes said the naming rights may be the first for Co-op across Western Canada.
“I’m an optimist, and the business will come back and the fans will come back,” he said. “We’ll hold many, many wonderful shows and events here.”
Brown said that while hockey and some other performances are scheduled, concert tours that would require the 6,000-seat venue are less certain in the immediate future.
“The large show touring industry is in the longer range to come back, just because of the uncertainty,” said Brown.