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We need ice, ice baby

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  |  Posted: Wednesday, Aug 24, 2011 02:38 pm

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This week’s news that renovations to the Plainsmen Arena have been delayed has thrown another significant dilemma into Airdrie’s ice usage plans for the fall.

With the re-opening date of the aging facility pushed back to Oct. 31, from Oct. 10, the three major user groups – Airdrie Minor Hockey, the Airdrie Ringette Association and the Airdrie Skating Club – will all have to find alternative locations to meet the demands of their memberships.

The situation has reached a critical level.

Unfortunately, there is no easy solution to this problem, as the city’s rapid growth in the past 10 years has surpassed the infrastructure needed to house the nearly 2,000 users.

Phase III of Genesis Place, which will include two new ice surfaces, is still in the planning and fundraising stages, far away from an actual opening date.

The Airdrie Regional Recreational Enhancement Society is doing all it can to help the issue, with its Raise the Rinks campaign and its inaugural golf classic on Aug. 25.

While that was a successful event, with the involvement and concern of plenty of former Airdrie minor hockey players, it still doesn’t help anything for those users about to be displaced for the start of this season.

Honestly, how does a city of more than 40,000 people only have two sheets of ice for nearly 2,000 users?

Surely hockey, ringette and figure skating can’t share ice at the same time. Or can they?

Maybe the groups can combine efforts by each taking a third of the ice sheet with a rotation system focusing on the unique skills of each.

The decision to renovate the Plainsmen obviously came down to finances, as these types of things always do, but was it really the right move?

Maybe the 37-year-old facility, mired with all sorts of issues, should have just been torn down.

Maybe City council should have cut its losses and moved forward.

Either way, let’s just hope the delay doesn’t get pushed back even further than Oct. 31.


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