Red Deer’s nearly 30-year-old Centrium arena needs a facelift to keep attracting world-class sports and cultural events, says a Red Deer city manager.
To help with the transformation, the city of Red Deer was asked for $3 million over three years toward a $6-million revitalization project that will improve the 1991-era arena’s dressing rooms, concourse and seating by the end of 2022.
Red Deer city council approved the spending request from Westerner Park’s exhibition association, which operates the Centrium, as part of its 2020 capital budget this week.
The association is seeking the other $3 million needed for the project from Red Deer County council, which hasn’t yet discussed the request.
Tara Lodewyk, the City of Red Deer’s planning services manager, said Westerner Park is a “huge” economic driver in the region.
“We want it to keep attracting more events,” she added, as Red Deer businesses and citizens benefit whenever the Centrium brings in various sport, business and cultural attractions.
Feedback from visitors to the Centrium, as well as organizers of events Westerner Park officials had hoped to secure, indicate changes are needed to keep the facility current with today’s consumer expectations, according to the association.
Lodewyk said the arena’s video screens must be upgraded to LED technology to produce a better quality picture and connect to computerized audio-visual equipment.
The Centrium’s washrooms and dressing rooms were found lacking, compared to those in more recently built arenas.
Food service selection and delivery needs to be expanded to offer the food carts available in other arenas. And rails need to be added to the concourse.
Lodewyk said, “People like to lean up against the rails to watch hockey games.”
One of the biggest projects is replacing thousands of spectator seats that are now so old, it’s hard to find replacement parts for them, she added.
Westerner Park officials need to complete the dressing room renovations before young hockey players start arriving from around the globe for the World Junior Championship that will run from Dec. 26, 2020, to Jan. 5, 2021.