About a month ago my editor and I had a point-counter-point series of columns where we discussed the need for a new hockey arena.
While my editor felt we should at least begin discussing a new arena, I disagreed saying there were other things this city needs before a new home for the Prince Albert Raiders should be constructed. I didn’t say it wasn’t necessary, I just feel it can be put off for the time being.
In the past month, my thoughts have changed, but not on building a new arena right now, but rather on what is needed — and soon.
I have spent a lot of time at Prime Ministers’ Park in the past month and with the arrival of lights courtesy of the Friday Night Lights campaign, the football field is a fun place to spend an evening and watch some high school football.
While watching these games, however, I have noticed that the track surface is in serious disrepair and the new lights have actually impeded the jumping pits and pole vault area of the facility.
A good friend of mine recently told me that Prince Albert was to be the site of the 2013 Saskatchewan High School Athletic Association track and field championships, but because of the condition of the facility at Prime Ministers’ Park, that bid has had to be withdrawn and put on hold until possibly 2014.
I have yet to hear from anyone, however, if repairing this facility is even in the plans so postponing the event is meaningless unless a plan is put in place.
That is where Prince Albert has to step forward and show their generosity once again. I know track and field isn’t a high profile sport like football or soccer and it doesn’t have the enrolment numbers like hockey, but it is a sport that produces some fine talent and they need a place — a top-end place — to train and prepare for major events.
Katelyn Lehner, for example, is a St. Mary High School student who is going to be heavily recruited for her talents in the women’s heptathlon. Shouldn’t she have a premiere facility to train on as she moves forward in her career?
The repairs are not needed just for her. There are so many rising stars in track and field and to have a first-rate facility would only help them as they prepare for the future.
Plus, if Prince Albert ever does want to host a major sporting event where that facility will be required, the repairs will have to be made anyway so why not get them done now. Having the best high school track and field athletes come to Prince Albert is a major event. I know it isn’t the Memorial Cup or the Telus Cup or any other event that is more popular, but track and field is still something that is rich in Prince Albert’s sporting tradition, so let’s get the changes made.
We’ve done it for soccer, football and even the arts with public contributions to the Alfred Jenkins Field House, Friday Night Lights and E.A. Rawlinson Centre. Let’s do something about the Harry Jerome Track so that Prince Albert can continue to be a leader in all sports and not just the ones that attract the most people.
Dave Leaderhouse is a writer with the Prince Albert Daily Herald