With the Trail Memorial Centre mural behind him

Trail Smokies spearheading big arena changes

The city needs to clear some space in the lower deck of the arena to make way for a new Smoke Eaters change room and training space.

The new owner of the Trail Smoke Eaters plans to undertake a major improvement in the memorial centre, but first the city needs to clear out of the way.

Council agreed to invest $145,000 toward a re-design that will oust odds and ends as well as the spare Zamboni from historic lower level storage and into another location on the far (river) side of the building.

Like anything, the primary concern is where the money will come from with other high priority projects on the radar, like a new dehumidifier in the Kids Rink and other fixes to the small ice. Notably the wooden boards are over 60 years old and an average of $1,000 is spent annually to repair an eight-foot section of board due to rot, or wear and tear.

However, with so much verve going into the Smoke Eaters this winter, council agreed to invest in a new storage place for items like chairs, tables and the backup ice resurfacer, so club owner Rich Murphy can proceed to take over the space to construct a new dressing room and training area.

After looking at various funding avenues, council chose to back the project directly with a 1 per cent increase in the 2017 tax levy which means the average taxpayer will pay about $15 for the project.

“I think we have to move forward based on commitments that have been made by a major private investor,” said Mayor Mike Martin. “While it’s unfortunate we have to relocate some storage, (we) are looking at it in the longer term.”

New Smoke Eater owners Rich and Annie Murphy

After discussing the Kids Rink usage and upcoming repairs, the topic turned back to the main ice and another proposal from the hockey club the addition of a media system with a very large video screen on the arena’s east end.

“The Smoke Eaters Hockey Club has a new owner who is keen to develop interactive game day experiences for fans which will undoubtedly result in increased attendance, revenue, and community pride,” Chief Administrative Officer David Perehudoff noted.

“The Smoke Eaters envision a large single‐side screen at the river‐end of the Cominco Arena, with cameras at strategic locations, and video processing equipment in the broadcast booth that knit together behind‐the‐scenes footage, instant replays, player statistics and interviews, sponsorship banners, music, and interactive graphics that prompt spectators to cheer on their team.”

Council agreed to offer $7,500 annually for use of the video screen, to market non-hockey events such as Silver City Days or the May 6 wellness expo that will feature a visit from gardening guru Mark Cullen.

“If Friday night is any indication of what could happen, it’s exciting,” said committee chair Coun. Sandy Santori. “There were people that came down for dinner and (some) of the same places were absolutely packed after,” he added.

“I made a point of asking if it’s usually like this after a game, and they said, “No.” I’ve said a million times I don’t know what other venue you would have that would bring in 700 to 1200 people, or hopefully more, into the city 28 times a year.”

Background

In September, Trail council directed city staff to work with the Smoke Eaters Club to accommodate the sale of the team to a private investor, including their request for additional space within the TMC, Perehudoff summarized in his governance memo.

A month later, preliminary drawings of the affected spaces were drafted and formed part of a Facilities Use Contract which was signed by the Smoke Eaters hockey club and the city. The contract with the new team owner came into effect Oct. 31.

A final design of the 2000-square foot space is expected to be completed soon, but prior to construction contracts being awarded by the hockey club, recreation staff will review the scope of work to ensure there are not conflicts with mechanical, electrical, and structural design.

Currently, the hockey club is renovating the former Trail Museum and once done, will move the Smoke Eaters head office from upstairs into the room, which directly feeds into the arena.

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