ACT Sports Minister Shane Rattenbury refuses to recognize his Field of Dreams moment even though it’s staring him in the face.
He’s missing a real opportunity by not getting behind the push to build a new ice rink which would provide more time and opportunity for Canberrans who follow – or would like to if facilities would allow – ice sports.
According to ABC Online the ACT Government is reluctant to push ahead with a second ice skating location.
They report that Mr Rattenbury has rejected a proposal for a new ice rink to be built in Canberra’s south, but that the ACT Government is moving ahead with plans to build a swimming pool next to Stromlo Forest Park to service the new suburbs of Molonglo in Canberra’s west.
The CBR Brave ice hockey team wants a new ice rink to be co-located with the pool to increase access to skating time. But the Sports Minister says a feasibility study has ruled that out.
The Phoenix like resurgence of CBR Brave from the ashes of the old Canberra Knights is a remarkable result and the organisation, effort and just plain heart that’s gone into the extremely impressive performances at every level which now sees Canberra with a real chance in the AIHL finals for the first time in sixteen years is nothing short of amazing.
What is almost as amazing, but sadly dispiriting in sharp contrast to CBR Brave’s inspirational performance, is the short-sightedness of the Assembly in stubbornly overlooking the possibility to make Canberra a recognized focal point for the sport of ice hockey.
My eleven year old and I watched the Ice Dogs smash the Sydney Bears 8 – 0 last weekend at the Sydney Ice Centre at Baulkham Hills.
In case you haven’t seen it, let me tell you ice hockey is fast and exciting. I’ve also noted firsthand how courteous the players are and how they willingly interact with fans.
My son, with no prompting from me, first snagged an autograph from a player he admires and then bought himself a puck fresh from the ice and had that signed by another player. On both occasions players were happy to give him their time and the lady at the concession stand apparently gave him the puck half price. All that coupled with a very convincing win by his team meant we had a great night.
Minister Rattenbury says “They’re getting good crowds in there for the ice hockey league and some of the biggest in the national league so that’s a very positive thing”. Well, yes it is. But it could all be bigger if the Assembly would show some vision.
In the US and Canada attendances at Ice Hockey games average 17,721 compared to 17,274 for Basketball games. Basketball, with more games, generates bigger numbers country wide but the figures surely indicate the relative popularity and drawing power of the two sports in the areas where venues exist.
Ice hockey could really grow in Australia and Canberra could be at the leading edge of that growth if the facilities were to be made available.
So Mr. Rattenbury, why not build on this vibrant resource you have in the ACT?
CBR Brave – with what they’ve already achieved – has demonstrated in no uncertain fashion organisational skills, marketing acumen and results on the ice which could really put Canberra on the map with this exciting sport.
We’re talking about something which could be commercially viable as well providing the kind of entertainment people really enjoy.
I’m a firm believer in that great business combination: fun and profit. A new ice rink to enable CBR Brave to reach greater heights could provide both.
Do it right and build on the core of skill, enthusiasm and talent which already exists and you could leave a lasting monument for future generations of Canberrans.