by Kristen McEwen
City council has been discussing extending the arena season for the Art Hauser Centre on a trial basis for the next three years.
The current 2014-2015 operating arena season is set to open on Aug. 6 and close on March 31.
Administration recommended the first set of options -- to extend the season until April 19 in 2015, to extend the season until April 17 in 2016 and to extend the season until April 17 in 2017.
The second set of options included extending the arena season until April 30 in 2015, extending the season to May 1 in 2016, and to extend the season to April 30 in 2017.
According to a report compiled for the council, there would be an increase in rental rates if the city wanted to recover 100 per cent of the cost it would take to keep the ice for the extended time, including increased utilities.
PA Mintos general manager Don Fauchoux said he understands that the extra time would cost more.
“I understand it takes a little more power because the weather is a little warmer perhaps, that’s fine,” Fauchoux said. “That’s cheaper than renting a bus and heading out of town somewhere.”
Extra ice time would give more user groups, such as minor hockey, an opportunity to host spring camp sessions in April.
A&W Bears business manager Bruce Vance said the extended season would definitely be beneficial.
“From the Bears’ standpoint, and other minor hockey (teams), it would be a huge benefit,” Vance said. “A lot of teams look to have camps in the spring and it would be a very good thing to access through the month of April.”
The Prince Albert Skating Club is one of the user groups interested in extended ice time.
The club finishes the learn-to-skate programs at the end of March, however there is still a core group of figure skaters that would use the ice time, said skating club registration chair Lora Wirtz.
“We have figure skaters, some of whom have to travel to Saskatoon after March,” Wirtz said.
She said the club always tries to have 10 spring sessions, sometimes using the Buckland arena.
This year the group was able to use the Dave G. Steuart Arena because the ice was extended to April 26 due to the2014 First Nation Winter Games.
While the proposed extended season is for the Art Hauser Centre, Wirtz noted the skating club would rent the ice if given notice the space would be available.
“It’s kind of difficult for us to plan because there’s always the opportunity if the Raiders make it into the playoffs or the Mintos make it into the playoffs then the city does extend the season,” Wirtz said.
She added that there’s always a last minute scramble to get enough skaters together to rent the Art Hauser ice if it ends up being available due to playoffs.
City council first received a request in 2013 to extend the arena season. Blais prepared a report on June 27 to determine the costs to the city.
“(Council) wanted to see how much money it would cost the city to extend the ice an extra two to three weeks and how much they would have to increase the rates to recover the costs put forward in the report.”
The final decision for the extended arena season will be at the next city council meeting.
“It’s up to city council to decide if the cost of extending it is worth the investment,” Blais said. “They’re going to discuss raising the fees, they’ve got to be cautious when they’re raising their prices. It’s going to be an interesting discussion.”