The push for a new ice rink in the nation’s capital has finally got its skates with the ACT Government calling for expressions of interest in developing a multi-million dollar facility.
The ACT Government has opened a tender to design, construct, own, operate and maintain a new ice sports facility in Canberra to replace the current ageing Phillip Swimming and Skating Centre.
ACT Sports Minister Yvette Berry said the ACT Government has not identified a set location for the facility but suggested the venue be built in the south of Canberra. Ms Berry said respondents to the expression of interest process are encouraged to identify one or more potential suitable locations for the proposed facility.
Interested parties are also asked to provide a high-level concept design of the venue that will include two individual ice rinks, spectator seating and amenities for both recreational and competitive use so the venue can host local, national and international events.
The ACT Ice Sports Facility Options Analysis Report, released by the Government in late 2018, projected a two-rink facility over two levels to cost $35 million while a two-rink facility over a single level would cost $30 million.
Ms Berry said the ACT Government will not own or be the primary funding source for the development and its ongoing operation but said it would consider providing a financial contribution to support the establishment of the facility.
ACT Ice Sports Federation president Tony Prescott said he is thrilled that the Government recognised Canberra needs a facility of Olympic dimensions.
“It has been four or five years that we have been engaging with the ACT Government and we are thrilled with the support we have received,” Mr Prescott said. “Our current facility is nearly 40 years old but we have always said this is not to be rushed.
“We want to get this right and to have a facility that is for the long-term future of the ice sports facility.”
Mr Prescott said the AISF endorses a public-private partnership approach, stating that he has been in discussions with other ice rink operators interstate and overseas that have shown a “little bit of interest”.
Mr Precott said he remains hopeful that the facility will be completed by the end of 2021 but “we have waited 40 years so we can wait”.
According to AISF, participation in ice sports has a projected growth of more than 10 per cent year on year, and Mr Prescott envisages an expansion of ice sports to include speed skating, curling, and paralympic ice sports such as sled hockey.
“We are ideally situated in a catchment area covering more than 1.5 million people — from Goulburn to Yass, the south coast of NSW to Cooma, and the ACT/Queanbeyan combined populations — so a new twin-sheet national ice sports centre will have a great advantage from day one,” he said.
“It will inherit an already existing and large local user base, which includes a number of grassroots competitions as well as elite-level programs across ice hockey, figure skating and broomball.
“We are committed to bringing national and international ice sports events to Canberra in the coming years, once the new facility is operational.”