March 20, 2016 7:15 pm
Updated: March 20, 2016 8:51 pm

Hockey headaches expected when city closes Donnan Arena for repairs

WATCH ABOVE: The city is closing Donnan Arena for much-needed repairs but that could create major headache and disruption for thousands of hockey-loving families in Edmonton. Julia Wong explains.


The temporary closure of a well-used arena in east Edmonton is expected to create major headaches for hockey families.

The city will close Donnan Arena, located at 91st Street and 80th Avenue, in October for much-needed repairs. The work will take eight months and the city said it is important to keep that schedule on track so repair work on other arenas doesn’t fall behind.

But Dean Hengel, executive director of Hockey Edmonton, said that closure will impact the hockey community.

“When an arena goes down in Edmonton, obviously it has a very significant effect on the hockey schedule for all of our 8,500 members and 500 plus teams,” he said.

“When one arena goes down, we’ll lose 30 to 40 hours of programmable ice.”

Hengel said the closure will force players to be shuffled around, not only creating inconvenience — but also competition for ice time. “It’s reflective of the growth in the city and our desperate need for more arenas and particularly where we’re growing in population,” he said.

The Donnan Arena at 9105 80 Ave. in Edmonton’s Mill Creek area. March 20, 2016.

Les Knight/Global News

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Hengel said half of Hockey Edmonton’s membership is made up of players who are eight years old or younger, which means weekend ice time is a commodity.

“When ice goes down at a place like Donnan that we use heavily on a Saturday and Sunday, it’s got a massive effect on our program,” he said.

Hengel said the news is hard to break to parents, many of whom don’t understand why the city can’t do repairs in the summer, as opposed to the winter months.

The city said Donnan can’t stay open during the summer because the arena doesn’t have the proper systems to keep cool. A spokesperson said the earliest work could begin at the facility is October.

“We will continue to work with the city to try and get the best schedules that we can agree on for arena closures and for other improvements that we need,” Hengel said.

Hockey parents like Jason MacLean say the disruption from the arena will create major inconvenience for his family. MacLean has two sons: Reese, 12, goes to the Vimy Ride Hockey Academy, and Brynn, 10, is registered at Donnan Hockey Academy. Both schools use Donnan Arena for practices.

“It’s going to make it tough,” he said.

“Every day, three or four times a week, they’re at the rink and now it could be at one arena or it could be at another, rather than just being close to the school and having that ease of pick-up and delivery.”

MacLean supports the repair work, but he is worried about the possible ripple effects the closure of the arena could have on his son’s schooling and training.

“It’s going to cause probably shorter, possibly shorter ice times in order to get the kids to the rink. It could interfere with their regular schooling…in order to accommodate time for travel,” he said.

Donnan Arena is the first arena slated for repair. The city said the next arena scheduled for work is Castledowns Arena.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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