On Wednesday the Lethbridge Hurricanes announced that if they make the playoffs, at least one home game will be played on Lethbridge’s west side at Nicholas Sheran Arena.
“That’s the facility that was available to us,” said Lethbridge Hurricanes general manager Peter Anholt. “We weren’t going to leave the city, so there was only one that was available to us.”
The 2019 Men’s World Curling Championship is forcing the Hurricanes out of the Enmax Centre from March 30 – April 7. Depending on where the ‘Canes finish in the standings and how their first round series plays out, the team could play one to three games at Nicholas Sheran Arena.
Anholt says the team would not have been allowed to use arenas in another WHL team’s territory and he heeded the advice from other teams in the league in making the decision.
“Everybody said, ‘stay in your hometown if you can,’ because for the most part fans won’t travel anyways” Anholt said.
In March, 2018, Hurricanes board president Doug Paisley estimated the team would lose at least $60,000 per home playoff game not played at the Enmax Centre. There are now discussions underway with the Enmax Centre for potential reimbursement of some of those funds.
“That’s all part of our negotiation right now,” said Lethbridge Hurricanes general manager of business operations Terry Huisman. “We’re still working through some of those details, but we are very happy with the direction it’s moving.”
Given the choice, the Hurricanes would, of course, rather play at the Enmax Centre, but should they make the playoffs, the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns believe they could be surprised at what kind of an atmosphere Nicholas Sheran Arena can offer.
“I think it’s going to be a pretty neat environment with having a capacity crowd in there,” said Pronghorns Athletics communications and operations manager Eoin Colquhoun. “It’s loud. You’re almost right on top of the ice surface, so it’s a pretty good fan experience as well.”
The next stage of the process is getting Nicholas Sheran Arena up to WHL code.
“We spent at least three months looking at the conversion and what exactly we would need to meet those standards,” said Enmax Centre general manager Kim Gallucci.
“The upgrades will include Wi-Fi, which will be boosted up significantly for the media and for different organizations that require it. The glass around there will become plexiglass… So it will actually be changed and remain part of it, which will be great for the Prongorns.”
The Pronghorns say the facility’s capacity is around 1,200 people. In the 2018 WHL playoffs, the Hurricanes averaged 4,316 fans per home game.
Playoff packages can be purchased by 2018-2019 season ticket holders, or by committing to season tickets for the 2019-2020 season. Ticket buyers who purchase the 2019 playoff package will be entered into a lottery draw to watch the games at Nicholas Sheran Arena.
Those who win the lottery will be able to watch the games at Nicholas Sheran Arena free of charge.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes are currently sitting in a playoff position with 15 games left in the regular season.