At its regular meeting on May 25, Lloydminster city council approved a $1.36 million, plus GST, makeover of the Russ Robertson Arena. The tender was awarded to Lloydminster’s Bexson Construction.
These renovations include doubling the size of the existing change rooms, adding a female change room, enlarging the entrance foyer and creating more office and storage space as well as a concession area. Originally the city hoped to expand available parking and make the building a little bigger, but that would have pushed the project over budget. City Coun. Larry Sauer says he’s sure those modifications will be looked at in future budgets. Lloydminster Minor Hockey general manager Darrell Wagner says the changes will make the arena safer and that he looks forward to its extended use.
“We’re excited about the changes coming to the Russ Robertson and we’re looking forward to having it become a much more usable facility for us,” he said. “Those dressing rooms were so small and so crowded with the kids in there that the potential for injury was tremendous.”
Construction is expected to be “substantially complete” by Dec. 1, but ice will be made accessible to user groups starting on Oct. 15. Community services director Don Stang says temporary accommodations will be made, and while nothing has been formally decided, he says using trailers for dressing rooms and providing alternate building access are possibilities. These renovations will also affect the minor hockey season.
“It’s going create some challenges, there’s absolutely no doubt about that,” Wagner said. “But I think the city is giving us assurances they’re going to do the best they can and they have some other contingency plans available if needed, so we’ll make do.”
The building, which turns 40 years old next year, is also getting its first female-specific change room, an addition that Wagner says is “absolutely” needed.
“If you had a team that came in that had girls on it, you would have to have them in a different dressing room,” he said. “You’d have to find a room or they’d go into a restroom, dress in there, and then take their equipment and move it out of the restroom so the refs could use it when they came to (officiate) the game.”
Wagner says the modifications should ease crowding and put the arena “on the map” as a potential tournament host. But as long as Lloydminster gets bigger and more skaters look for ice time, there will always be a need for arena modernization.
“Going forward I do believe we need another ice facility in Lloydminster and we’re always looking to get something expanded for office and storage,” he said. “We’re growing. So as we grow, our needs grow.”