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Redevelopment planned for Exhibition Park

Redevelopment plans for Exhibition Park are coming together, including a new trade and convention centre as well as an indoor, permanent dirt arena.

The Lethbridge & District Exhibition laid out the blueprint Tuesday, believing the plans are key to future growth.

“The market has a demand for large space to support trade shows with accompanying meeting rooms all in one location,” said Rudy Friesen, general manager of Exhibition Park.

Plans are highlighed by the 250,000 sq. ft. trade and convention facility, which would include meeting areas and a kitchen.

Current facilities are only half that size, with the Exhibition making it loud and clear that more room is needed.

“There is business being lost because there is not enough space,” said Doug Kryzanowski, the Exhibition’s marketing manager. “We’ll hopefully accommodate that with our new concept.”

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Also in the works is a 75,000 sq. ft. Agriplex, similar to development at Saskatoon’s Prairieland Park.

A year-round, indoor dirt arena saving time and money, while providing more options for agriculture shows.

“Right now to accommodate that activity, we (have to) bring the dirt in (then take) dirt out,” said Friesen. “That dedicated facility has tripled ag activity in other centres because of access and changeover of function.”

The entire Exhibition Park site is roughly 63 acres, half of which is dedicated to the Rocky Mountain Turf Club racing facility, making the 8 acre addition of the Henderson Lake Campground space vital.

Redevelopment cost is still unknown.

A new build is expected to take three years, at which point, the current pavillions would be demolished.

“We can do an entire build and not interrupt existing business operation,” said Friesen. “That’s very important to us, as any interruption results in losses.”

Exhibition staff say redevelopment concepts have been created, however they won’t be released to the public until the Board of Directors has given its approval, which would happen in December.

Once approved, officials will present to city council in the spring, with the goal of funding the plans though the 2014-2023 Capital Improvement Program.
 

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