Crusaders outline plans for $80 million event center

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It is a proposal that the council may not be able to refuse.

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The Sherwood Park Crusaders have a lofty goal in mind, and we’re not talking about a total team rebuild. At the council’s Priorities Committee meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 25, Cru officials asked the Strathcona County Council if it would be interested in entering into a 20-year, $4.5 million annual lease agreement to a new $80 million event center.

“(Kevin Love, owner and president of the Sherwood Park Crusaders) has been trying for 17 years to work with the county to modernize the Randy Rosen Arena. In other words, it’s a dated facility. He is 57 years old and it is time to look at other options to ensure the viability of the Sherwood Park Crusaders,” said Ryan Maxwell, Governor of the Sherwood Park Crusaders Hockey Society.

Le Cru – the second oldest franchise in the Alberta Junior Hockey League – has confirmed that it has $5-10 million in private investment ready to be invested in this project, and with county support , the organization could benefit from significant grants at the provincial and federal levels. government levels.

While some might think this is a novel approach, Maxwell said, successful examples of such agreements already exist in places like Edmonton and Kelowna.

The world-class, 3,500-seat dual-surface event center design could accommodate hockey, basketball, volleyball (four courts), pickleball or badminton (nine courts), trade shows and conventions, as well as as concerts and major cultural events for an audience of over 5,000 people. people. The concept of the double arena would be retained, as well as a hall and a concession, but the number of dressing rooms would be increased to 10.

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An architectural concept of what the interior of the new $80 million event center might look like during a home game for the Crusaders.  Graphic courtesy of Sherwood Park Crusaders
An architectural concept of what the interior of the new $80 million event center might look like during a home game for the Crusaders. Graphic courtesy of Sherwood Park Crusaders

The center would be located on land owned by Tag Developments on the corner of Sherwood Drive, just south of the Yellowhead Highway and west of Emerald Hills, where three hotels are currently located.

“There could be 335 acres developed by us to kick off this arena development and that could be $90 million in offsite takedowns (come back to the county),” Maxwell hinted, adding that further development would result in new property tax revenue. .

It is estimated that the construction of the project would take two years and create nearly 500 construction jobs.

The Edmonton Stingers have also expressed interest in the facility, saying there is a possibility the team will make Sherwood Park their home facility. Designs show that the facility could hold up to 4,500 fans.

In addition to the Stingers, letters of support for the project were submitted by local hotels, local ringette, local minor hockey, Sherwood Park Kings Athletic Club and local lacrosse.

“It is important to note that this has extended to what the event center is. It’s just not about the Sherwood Park Crusaders. It’s a multi-sport, multi-purpose facility,” Maxwell said.

A glimpse of the main hall inside the proposed $80 million event center.  Graphic courtesy of Sherwood Park Crusaders
A glimpse of the main hall inside the proposed $80 million event center. Graphic courtesy of Sherwood Park Crusaders

According to the economic evaluation model of sports tourism, the center could generate economic benefits of $55.7 million annually once operational, attracting more than 306,000 visitors. The proposal also suggested that the facility would be operated by Nustadia – one of the largest community recreation operators in Canada – and not by the county. It is expected that 16 jobs will be created, half full-time and half part-time, and the facility would expend approximately half a million dollars annually into the local economy on supplies, products and services.

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Taking a ‘conservative’ approach to screenings, it could host more than 46 events each year, 25 of which are sports tournaments – which could draw more than 11,000 visitors and spectators.

“We’ve met with hotels, and I wouldn’t say they’re desperate, but they’ve said they want this center. One hotel said they would even invest in the center,” Maxwell said.

Acknowledging the Cru has a long history in the community, Mayor Rod Frank asked what the future of Sherwood Park Arena would be if such an events center were created and a new facility was a priority. county general and recreation and culture. Master plan.

“The $4.5 million over 20 years is a commitment of $90 million,” noted the mayor.

If it goes ahead, general manager Darrell Reid has pointed out that the deal will amount to a 2% tax increase. He said the project could also present competing interests for the county, as it plans to build two of its own multi-purpose facilities such as The Pointe and the proposed indoor court complex.

District 3 Com. Lorne Harvey agreed and focused on battling for trade show bookings, which are lucrative events currently held at Millennium Place. However, he agreed that something needed to be done for the team.

“Sherwood Park arena is definitely outdated. Having Cru play there is almost doing them a disservice,” Harvey said.

A functional study will take place this year for the Randy Rosen Rink and answers regarding the modernization and its overall future will return to the board for discussion in the fourth quarter of 2022, RPC Director Suzanne Lobb confirmed.

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“We are a non-profit organization. We are not looking to make money. It’s a Crusader legacy project,” Maxwell said. “We are all residents of Sherwood Park and believe it is in the best interests of the county, the community at large, local businesses and the sports teams involved.”

Ward 8 County. Katie Berghofer asked if hockey academies would be able to use the facility and increase daytime revenue. Notably, Maxwell confirmed that several hockey academies are interested, particularly one in British Columbia. He said Sherwood Park has everything you would need to support a hockey academy, it just needs the right arena.

Ward 5 County. Aaron Nelson remembers hearing many times about the need for more ice in municipal elections. According to the presentation of the Cru, the use of local ice is almost capped at 93% (2018-2019 statistics) and the adult leagues are very underserved (taking up only 8% of ice time). According to RPC, there is always a high demand for ice during prime time from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“When we have kids playing at 10 p.m. at Tofield, that’s a problem,” he said.

The $80 million event center, the proposed new home for the Sherwood Park Crusaders, would be located just south of the Yellowhead Highway and west of Sherwood Drive.  Graphic courtesy of Sherwood Park Crusaders
The $80 million event center, the proposed new home for the Sherwood Park Crusaders, would be located just south of the Yellowhead Highway and west of Sherwood Drive. Graphic courtesy of Sherwood Park Crusaders

Nelson wondered if Cru had reached out to big industrial companies, such as Dow Chemical or Shell Scotford, for sponsorship.

“We started talking with potential industry partners and potential investors. We certainly see an opportunity, either as a main sponsor or for the facility. Again, this is very preliminary. In fact, we met with MLA (Jordan) Walker for this reason and he started referring us to potential industry partners who would be interested in investing in this. So we definitely started reaching out,” Maxwell detailed.

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Ward County 6. Corey-Ann Hartwick wondered what would happen to the facility after the 20-year agreement expires. While some AJHL models saw the facility revert to the municipality, others remained private, ending the financial burden. For the Cru, they welcome one or the other approach.

“We want to do what is in the best interest of the county. We don’t have a preference,” Maxwell said.

For now, the council has agreed to put a pin in the project. Berghofer’s motion to dismiss that the administration review the proposal with the Crusader organization was supported by an 8-to-1 vote, with the Ward 7 Coun. Glen Lawrence out. The discussion regarding this event center lease agreement will be part of a larger debate when the county’s finance department provides an update on 2022 capital projects on Feb. 22.

“We have to look at it in a big picture. There are a lot of projects going on,” said CFO Jennifer Cannon.

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