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University asking city for $1M to help build twin-rink facility

The University of Saskatchewan is seeking one million dollars from the city to help build a two-rink facility to share with the Saskatoon sports community. File / Global News

SASKATOON – The University of Saskatchewan (U of S) is asking for a capital contribution from the city to help build Rutherford Rink’s replacement. For a $1 million investment, a new ice surface would be made available to Saskatoon.

The university sent a letter to the city manager in January requesting capital funding to support the construction of a new twin-pad arena on its property near the Saskatoon Field House.

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Rutherford Rink was built in 1929 and is one of the oldest ice facilities used for Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) competition.

“The current Rutherford, from an ice time perspective, meets their needs but the building itself is old beyond old,” said Lynne Lacroix, the city’s director of recreation and community development.

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A report was presented this week at a committee meeting recommending city council give administration approval to proceed with negotiating a contribution agreement recognizing ongoing community access to the new facility with U of S.

During the development of the city’s Recreation and Parks Master Plan, an estimated ice time shortage was identified.

“All of our primetime ice at the city-owned facilities is booked through the entire season and has been for a number of years,” Lacroix said. “We also have groups looking for more ice time. There are some of the minor sports groups that have had to limit their number of participants or registrants because they can’t secure enough ice time.”

Lacroix said teams are even resorting to driving to nearby rinks out of Saskatoon for practice.

U of S stated that the idea of a twin-pad facility arose due to the shortage of ice facilities within the growing city.

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“The university took that opportunity to put out a request for proposals to the community. One of the proponents came back with a recommendation for a second ice surface, one to address the university’s needs and a second one that could help address the community’s growing demand for ice time,” Lacroix said.

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Should the facility be built, the second rink is intended to be available on a rental basis for organized sports, as well as public skating.

Administration reviewed the university’s proposed project and gave it a score above 75 per cent. Scoring above 50 per cent demonstrates good value to both the city and the community.

As part of the 2016 capital budget, council approved $1 million to help expedite the building of a new arena. The grant would be considered a one‐time capital contribution and ongoing operating costs will be covered by the owner of the facility.

According to the report, giving administration the green light would ensure access to the new facility within an approximate two-year timeframe.

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