16 January 2023

Government finds cool $16m for ice sports facility in Tuggeranong

| Ian Bushnell
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Canberra Arena ice sports facility

What the Canberra Arena ice sports facility could look like when the CBR Brave play. Photo: ACT Government.

The developers behind a new ice sports facility in Canberra’s south hope to start construction by the end of the year after the ACT Government smoothed the way with a direct sale process for the land and a $16.2 million commitment to the project.

The ice sports community has been lobbying for such a facility to replace the ageing Phillip ice rink for nine years.

Today’s announcement will ease its anxieties about having a seamless transition to a new facility, particularly after property developer Geocon’s recent acquisition of the Phillip pool and ice rink site.

READ ALSO EV registrations double in past year as ACT leads uptake

The new two-sheet facility is proposed to be built on a vacant block on Rowland Rees Crescent next to the Alpha Hotel in Greenway near the Town Centre, hopefully opening in 2025.

The government announced late last year that it would support the detailed proposal for the $45-50 million ice sports facility from Cruachan Investments and its development partner, Pelligra Holdings, following an expression of interest process and the signing of a Heads of Agreement.

It was also a 2020 election promise.

The facility will be known as the Canberra Arena and meet the needs of Canberra’s growing ice sports community and be home for the ACT’s national ice hockey champions CBR Brave, with the goal of becoming a national centre of excellence.

Canberra Arena ice sports facility announcement

Sports Minister Yvette Berry and Planning Minister Mick Gentleman with officials and ice sports participants at the Greenway site. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

It will have two international standard ice sheets for figure skating, broomball, speed skating and ice hockey, as well as dedicated curling lanes – the first of its kind in Australia – and capacity for up to 3600 spectators.

It will also include an Olympic-standard indoor rock climbing facility.

Amenities will include change rooms, player benches, penalty boxes and judging platforms, as well as a retail/pro shop, skate rental facilities, café/kiosk and restaurant, office and administration space and concessions areas in the main ice rink.

Sport and Recreation Minister Yvette Berry said it would be the only private facility of its kind in Australia and would also receive the highest amount of government funding for an ice sports facility in Australia.

Ms Berry said there was already a strong and growing ice sports community in the ACT.

She said people were saying “build it and they will come” but “I think build it and they are already here”.

Asked about the location, Ms Berry said there was not much land of this size and type available for the facility across the city and the community had wanted it to be in the south.

“This is the piece of land that suited the needs of the facility,” she said.

Canberra Arena ice sports facility

A bird’s eye view of the Canberra Arena ice sports facility. Photo: ACT Government.

Ms Berry said the value of the land would be identified through the direct sale process.

Any further support for the facility would be worked out in contract negotiations.

“We want to see the Canberra arena be a real community facility,” she said.

On the Phillip rink, Ms Berry said that under the current lease Geocon would be required to continue operating it, and she was due to meet with the company to clarify their intentions for the site.

But under the proposed Territory Plan which allows development of the site, Geocon would only need to provide a 25-metre public pool.

READ ALSO Phillip pool’s days are numbered after developer confirms acquisition

ACT Ice Sports Federation President Tony Prescott said the announcement was a monumental moment for the ACT ice sports community.

“We know this facility will be a ground-breaker for ACT ice sports but we also know this facility will be a national centre of excellence for ice sports in the future,” he said.

“We know we will get national championships and international events, and the opportunities that brings for young Canberra kids to join the sports and have pathways right through to the elite level is so exciting for us.”

Cruachan Director Stephen Campbell said government support was vital for the project because it would be a combined recreational and sporting facility.

He said a single sheet recreational facility would easily be viable but the sports component need government support.

“It’s no different to how governments invest in basketball courts, soccer fields and other sporting infrastructure,” Mr Campbell said.

He said the Canberra Arena would be the first ice sports facility in Australia to have bowl or stadium seating.

“No matter where you are in the stadium, you will have an uninterrupted view of the sport,” Mr Campbell said.

A development application is expected soon.

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Looks like the long promised Ice Rink at Tuggeranong is getting kicked down the road again.

Minister Berry last year told Canberra’s radio and print media that we’d be skating by 2025.

Now the head of the project says it will take another 3 years at the earliest.

ACT Government needs to fast track the ice rink and use their call in powers. Unlike other call in situations, I reckon Greens and Liberals would back this to ensure the project finally gets underway.

Brindabella MLA’s of all parties, please make this happen.

But it’s a private development. ACT Government is just contributing funding. The funding got announced, what, 15 months ago and they (Cruachan) haven’t even finalised a design yet, let alone go to tender. Wonder how the Adelaide one is looking?

Is this the same business that? Were tired up with ICE RINGS ADELAIDE. Looks like the photos are the same. and the wording Arena is on their home page. Just asking.

Yep the ACT Government has selected a company who hasn’t yet delivered an ice rink beyond the architectural plans. I guess the Cronulla Sharks failed for fifty years before succeeding.

The selected partner do seem a little more focused this time. So fingers crossed.

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On one hand it’s great to have something new. On the other hand it will be sad to see the Brave Cave go in that I doubt that the ‘Arena’ (surely a more activity specific icy name could be found) will have anything like the atmosphere generated in the old tin shed. At the same time the Olympic size sheet is understandable as far international events are concerned but the 66% sized Phillip sheet ensured rapid end to end excitement and plenty of contact while the full size Olympic sheets always seem to spread the play at what is essentially amateur level. Even in the elite professional USA the National Hockey League rarely uses Olympic size surfaces. But I guess you can’t have it all. Good luck to the venture with a hope that the private backers can make good their promises.

Why could they not simply have bought the more centrally located Woden centre and upgraded it?

Gungahlin to Woden is a long waybut Gungahlin to Tuggeranong is a lot further.

Want to seriously tackle climate change? Moving facilities to the outer fringes and significantly increasing travel distances does completely the opposite.

ChrisinTurner1:09 pm 17 Jan 23

Why on earth would this be a private facility, subject to the pressures of making the profit over all other considerations? With the huge contribution being made, it should at least be part owned by the taxpayers.

There is no way they are going to be operating this on their own dime. The economics aren’t there. The Government will be subsidising this in some way.

Berry could have improved the existing site for about $10 million less. But Geocon wouldn’t have been impressed.

Yes good point Stuart , but I’m not sure about the cost savings at the broader macro level. I’m betting the Philip site would have been worth a lot more than the $16 million in ACT government money they are providing for the Tuggeranong ice centre. If the Philip pool site went to the open property developer market with the loose conditions the Minister has placed on the site it’s possibly worth up to twice that.

When you factor in lease variations, future property taxes and land use values for the Phillip site, the ACT Government will probably get back their $16 million and then some from doing the Tuggeranong development instead.

But I’m totally with you that Geocon will be laughing all the way to the bank.

What a grift. Congratulations to Cruachan – a DCMO (which they will also own). I’m sure there is also a grant for operating losses year on year hidden in the agreement as well.

I am glad the ice skating community of the ACT are happy. But it comes at the amenity expense of several hundred people who have just moved into the peace and tranquility of LDK Greenway Views across the road. I am not happy. Go another couple of hundred meters down the road to a sports and office precinct!

LDK Greenway Views took over prime office employment space in the Tuggeranong town centre precinct. And Tuggeranong badly needs more jobs and employment opportunities for its local residents, not less office space.

I’d personally be happy that there is such high end aged care housing in such a prime location with immediate access to nearby services and amenities.

The elderly in cities across Australia and the world could only dream of such a facility that mixes urban amenity and nearby parkland reserve.

Yes, surely it’s laughable for people to move into the Tuggeranong Town Centre area and then expect no other development to happen anywhere nearby.

Particularly when the land has been zoned for Leisure and Accommodation for a very long time. This is exactly the type of development that was always supposed to go there.

When the buildings were vacated, no other businesses seemed interested in putting in the effort of conversion. As for jobs, there are plenty of jobs going here, but few people to fill the positions.

Tuggeranong has a very low resident to employment ratio, so I’m not sure about your spurious jobs claim.

Also, Lendlease who owned the old TOP and the new LDK got a $60 million federal government grant to make LDK buildings green via insulation, solar panels etc. I don’t think the old site was openly put out to other businesses. I reckon a $60 million dollar incentive to make more energy efficient office buildings might have had a few takers.

William Newby10:58 pm 16 Jan 23

Probably got the money from abandoning the Phillip pool/ice complex to property developers last week.
In fact if you’ve been following this Barr & co have allowed for the Phillip pool to softly fail into decay while they have been scheming with property developers to offload this problem for years now.
Will their tram take the Woden people to this new complex for free or will we all just have to drive out there?

Tram to Tuggeranong should be done around the year 2049. Until then it will be driving your car or catching the R4. By then Labor might have also started the Athllon drive duplication and the Kambah woolies upgrade!

Ahh yes the Kambah woolies upgrade. There was a Labor MLA photographed with a shovel out the front of the store a decade ago.

I still won’t believe the Tuggeranong Ice Rink until the ice actually freezes. The company they chose hasn’t actually delivered any of the 3 previous rinks they promised in other Australian states.

Athlonn drive duplication has been discussed before each election for a decade and previous parliamentarian promises for Sulwood duplication have been forgotten for decades (the graded road preparation was as far as they got).

Cmon BJ, that’s a bit harsh.

They’ve also delivered signs telling us all about how the projects are important priorities for the Government and are definitely happening (this time, we promise).

Used to be a sign in Kambah “we’re upgrading this playground” the sign faded to white and nothing was ever upgraded.

I wish i had fond memories of playing broomball on the isce at phillip in the 90’s, but I really don’t. It was poorly maintained back then and we had the ridiculous sitiuation of playing at 7am on a Sunday morning, because it was booked out… All that use and no money to maintain it apparently.

This new facility might even mean the AIHL playoffs are played in Canberra.

I think you will find it was a 2016 election promise too. But it’s great news and finally some long overdue infrastructure going into Tuggeranong.

$16 million however is peanuts in government coinvestment (plenty of other projects have got 50/50 split) compared to the almost hundred million the ACT government has poured into parks and works around west basin.

The new ice facility will get a lot more attendance than the predictably underused Henry Rolland park, it’s empty half the time that we’ve walked past or only had about half a dozen people. No one ever ‘seriously’ uses the expensive public gym equipment they installed. OK the occasional young guy will try and show off with a single chin up to try and impress someone.

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