As a father and a grandfather of hockey players, Lloydminster city Coun. Larry Sauer said that the $1.4 million in expansions that council approved at Monday night’s budget meeting will go a long way to breathing new life into the Russ Robertson Arena next year.
Sauer, who passionately asked council to approve the expansion, said that the expansion has been looked at several times, and has been dealt with in different ways, by different councils.
“We have now come to a time when their dressing rooms at the Russ Robertson are not adequate for the user groups in the city,” Sauer said.
He added that the user-ship of the Russ Robertson is huge, and by doing the expansions the arena will have a new extended lease on life.
“Moving forward on the expansions, it will not give us more time to better utilize the Russ Robertson Arena.”
When asked if the expansion to the Russ Robertson Arena would benefit the players and the groups that use the facility, Sauer said the state of the change rooms is inadequate for any group to use while renting out the arena.
“This expansion is mostly for the four dressing rooms,” Sauer said. “There will also be a creation of a girls-only changing room at the arena.”
Also included in the expansion is the foyer upgrades.
“The four dressing rooms are not adequate for any teams to go in there. They are way too small,” said Sauer.
The expansion’s cost will not be seen in the form of a tax hike according to Sauer, but Council decided to put the project on the capital debt that the city currently has.
“Putting the arena on the debt means that it will be put over X number of years. It was suggested at 10 years,” he said.
Sauer said something like the Russ Robertson will be something people will use over that 10-year span. “This won’t be a big hit in one year, but spread out over numerous years.”
Last year’s budget, included expansion to the Russ Robertson Arena, when it was proposed that the Hockey Day in Canada outdoor rink would be moved and a second ice pad would be created at the Russ Robertson Arena.
Sauer said that the expansion that was passed on Monday was the first step in moving the additional pad at the arena forward.
“It will be a huge step, and it will better help utilize the arena down the road,” he said. “We will then need to look at expanding it further.”