Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Canada Games picks UPEI site for major athletics venue

This area near UPEI could be the future home of a Canada Games facility. The athletic venue
will be on the agenda of a public meeting in Charlottetown tonight. Guardian photo

Canada Games picks UPEI site for major athletics venue
The Guardian

The 2009 P.E.I. Canada Summer Games host committee has identified UPEI as the preferred location for a multi-million dollar athletics venue.
Joe Spriet, president of the 2009 Canada Games, said Tuesday the university has been the preferred site since the bid process began.
The City of Charlottetown will host a public meeting tonight where the athletics venue will be one of three topics on the agenda. Putting such a facility on the campus requires a zoning change, meaning a public meeting is mandatory. The meeting takes place at the Charlottetown Hotel at 7 p.m.
The athletics venue, if it goes ahead at UPEI, would be an ambitious endeavour, covering 10 acres between the university and the Charlottetown Mall.
The venue would start north of the ring road at UPEI. MacAdam Field, the new artificial turf field at UPEI, would not be affected.
The venue was thought to be headed to Stonepark Junior High School, one of the locations identified in consultant Ken DesRoches' report in 2006.
Spriet said initially UPEI showed little interest in the athletics venue "until some issues came into play with respect to what you do with a beautiful facility after the Games.
"You can't just create a white elephant, nobody wants that. One of our huge concerns was after the Games in September '09, that we've got a facility that can be put to proper use with proper operational dollars and programming. Where better than UPEI, if we can make it happen,' Spriet said.
Officials at UPEI were not immediately available for comment.
As one of the stakeholders, the City of Charlottetown as agreed to contribute $500,000 towards the venue.
Mayor Clifford Lee said the city has no interest in taking on operational costs of another facility.
"It's not a decision for the city to make as to where the facility ends up, we're not building it, we don't own it and we're not going to be responsible for the operational costs after the fact,' Lee said.
Among the features at the venue would be a track and enough seating for thousands. It would be the largest facility built for the 2009 Games.
Back when the host society submitted its bid it was thought the athletics venue would cost $3 million. Spriet said the cost will be "a little larger but I won't go to a number at this point. It's somewhat larger (than $3 million).
The cost would be cost-shared by the three levels of government under the federal infrastructure program.
And, although no one is talking about it now, the project could include a new access road - beyond the current two entrances to UPEI.
"I can say this much, it's probably high up there on UPEI's wish list,'' Spriet said.
The president of the 2009 Games said they hope to have council's decision on the rezoning application very soon.
"We've got to get going. In the spring the shovels have to be in the ground and it's got to be built by the time the snow flies next fall.'

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