The worst outcomes sometimes begin with the best of intentions.
And with that thought in mind, it’s time to once again explore the Bring Back The Magic campaign that refurbished the old Communiplex and turned it into the Art Hauser Centre.
It’s everything that’s good about Prince Albert and a little that’s bad.
In just over a month, $3 million was raised to renovate the front of the old Communiplex, which was showing its age.
Built in 1971, it was time to act on the building.
The result was an absolutely beautiful entrance. The Ches Leach Lounge is also an amazing space that receives a lot of use.
It’s a story that’s so typically Prince Albert -- identify a need, fundraise and fix -- that’s it’s almost a community cliché. Very few communities can do this over and over again like Prince Albert.
Nearly 10 years later, the additions to old Communiplex are attractive and functional.
The offices for the Raiders and the city are nice.
The video scoreboard is really good. The new seats are nice.
But a dispassionate observer can see that something’s clearly missing.
Some expensive car parts were retrofitted onto an old beater, and it’s the beater that’s continuing to show its age.
The Prince Albert Raiders, in an effort to spark discussion on the concept of one day building a new facility, took a busload of city officials to Moose Jaw on Feb. 13, 2013.
Moose Jaw opened its new arena, Mosaic Place, in 2011. The original talk about replacing the old Moose Jaw Civic Centre -- lovingly called the Crushed Can -- started in 1999.
A divisive referendum in 2006 took the question of building a $36.3-million facility to voters. A second referendum in 2009 followed a lawsuit brought by citizens trying to halt the project.
It passed again.
By the time it was built, the 210,000-square-foot building cost $61.3 million. The city’s share was $24 million.
WHL commissioner Ron Robison’s response to the final decision to build was telling.
“This will enable the Warriors franchise to remain in Moose Jaw and provide an arena which will serve the community and the Warriors hockey club for decades to come,” Robison said in a news release at the time.
It makes you wonder what the commissioner makes of the smallest building in the Canadian Hockey League when he visits Prince Albert.
Prince Albert hockey fans have become accustomed to watching hockey in a subpar facility and many don’t see the need for it to be replaced.
Some of them are the people who supported the Bring Back The Magic campaign and aren’t interested in seeing those donations no longer used or used in a different way.
But there’s no escaping the fact that the Art Hauser Centre turns 50 on Dec. 12, 2021.
Maybe it has 20 years of life in it. Maybe it has 30.
At this point, there has never been a substantive discussion during an open council meeting.
Perhaps the city will look at the issue and decide that the money should be spent on other things. That’s a perfectly rational position to take.
Maybe they will decide that it’s time to start saving some nickels for construction in 2025.
That’s also a perfectly rational position.
What isn’t rational is ignoring an issue because it’s potentially divisive or expensive.
Let’s talk about it.
Prince Albert Daily Herald