May 21, 2019 9:51 pm

‘This is what we’ve been missing’: TsuuT’ina Nation opens new sportsplex

wATCH: After going years without a hockey rink, the TsuuT'ina Nation has opened a state of the art sportsplex. As Cami Kepke reports, the nation hopes it will bring positive change and attract some big events.

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After going years without a hockey rink, the TsuuT’ina Nation has opened the state-of-the-art 7 Chiefs Sportsplex.

“This is what we’ve been missing for five years now with the closure of our old sportsplex,” Chief Lee Crowchild said Tuesday. “This is a place we call home now.”

It’s also a place Crowchild hopes will attract more visitors from Calgary to the First Nation.

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The $55.6 million facility boasts two NHL-sized indoor arenas, one outdoor rink, a fitness centre, a massive multipurpose gym, extra space for concessions, offices and a chiropractor.

It’s believed to be one of the largest sports complexes on an Alberta First Nation.

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Council member LeeRoy Meguinis said it’s expected to welcome about 500,000 visitors a year.

“The feeling of pride and honour is massive,” local resident Zachary Manywounds said. “I don’t think it matters what age you are, youth, adult, older — this is something beyond special.”

The Sportsplex opened to the community on Friday.

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Already, people are packing the gym and covered outdoor rink.

“It kind of feels good,” Kayson Dodging Horse Bruised Head said.

The eight-year-old doesn’t know much about construction or logistics, but he does know a lot about sports, and he’s excited to have space closer to home to practice.

He spent Tuesday morning practising lacrosse with his dad, emulating his heroes on the Calgary Roughnecks.

“This is the one [rink] where we’re rollerblading and [playing] ball hockey and lacrosse. Inside they’re both hockey,” Dodging Horse Bruised Head added.

The First Nation hopes to focus on community events for its first year, but it has some lofty goals. Calgary Flames and Hitmen brass have already toured the facility, and eventually, Meguinis would like to see the sportsplex host the National Aboriginal Hockey Championship.

Programs with SAIT culinary students and Mount Royal personal training students are already on the calendar.

The goal is to host at least one event every month in hopes of raising TsuuT’ina’s national profile, and improving quality of life at home.

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