September 16, 2016 6:20 pm

Phase 1 of ATB Centre complete, Spearman calls facility ‘statement to the province’

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After three years of construction, phase one of the ATB Centre in Lethbridge is complete. Residents and dignitaries toured through the facility Friday, getting a glimpse of two NHL-sized ice surfaces along with a 10-sheet curling facility.

“This facility will be a statement to the province,” Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman said. “This is going to be one of the biggest and one of the best facilities in the province. I’m really proud that it’s right here in the City of Lethbridge.”

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The completion of phase one means the Lethbridge Curling Club’s time at the Civic Centre has come to an end. The old building housed the club for 70 years, but now they’re ready to start a new journey at the ATB Centre.

“We’re extremely excited,” Lethbridge Curling Club president Mike Mulroy said. “Our membership is gearing up for our first bonspiel next weekend. We’re looking like a curling club again and we can’t wait to get started.”

Though they’ll have the same amount of ice surfaces, the new venue offers much more exposure for the club.

“Through the lobby, there’s viewing areas all over the place that give people the chance to actually see curling,” Mulroy said. “In the Civic Centre you had to physically come inside the building to see us. Having access to the public we’ve never had before, we really hope to drive membership numbers up.”

When finished, the ATB Centre will serve as the pinnacle for sport and recreation in the city. But according to Spearman, it will also bring the community closer together.

“We tend to have a cultural divide in Lethbridge between east and west Lethbridge,” Spearman said. “There’s people who live in east Lethbridge who have never been to west Lethbridge. It’s going to bring the city together as a population, and we’re not going to have that divide anymore.”

The new facilities in phase one are a substantial improvement, but phase two will actually be much bigger. It will include an aquatics centre, a multi-sport field house, and a number of other things. The City of Lethbridge is aiming to have the ATB Centre completely finished in 2019.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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