Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown bringing in Wi-Fi this year

Dave Stewart
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Dave McGrath, general manager of Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown, says Wifi is coming to the entire complex no later than early June. It's one of the big ticket items in the City of Charlottetown's capital budget, which was passed by city council on Monday night.

Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown is going wireless.

City council passed an $11.26 million capital budget at its monthly meeting Monday night and will be setting some of that cash aside to bring Wi-Fi to Charlottetown's largest arena complex.

"It would bring us up to the sport and entertainment and social media standards that these venues should be,'' said Dave McGrath, general manager of EastLink Centre.

He isn't prepared to say exactly how much it will cost because staff members are still in talks with more than one Internet provider. Suffice it to say that outfitting an arena with Wi-Fi can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $3.5 million, although it's a pretty safe bet the actual cost for Eastlink Centre will be a lot closer to the first figure.

McGrath said work on bringing Wi-Fi is already underway. They hope to have it up and working no later than the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft, which takes place June 4 at Eastlink Centre.

The cost for Wi-Fi varies, depending on factors such as how many people might be using it at any given time. This weekend, for example, Eastlink Centre will put through an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 people for Islanders hockey games, the Island Storm basketball and the RV show in the Trade Centre. Thus, it would have to be strong enough for that many people.

"It's for the complex as a whole. When we have trade shows on the trade centre side . . . we certainly need to have Wi-Fi for those providers that are in the various booths to be able to carry out their business. We'll also have a system in place once Wi-Fi is up so that people can order food from their seat.''

There is an app called VenueMenu that allows people to order from their seat at Eastlink Centre, but McGrath said it's very hit and miss.

Coun. Melissa Hilton, chairwoman of the city's finance committee, said Wi-Fi was one of the big asks from staff at the arena.

"It's pretty crucial, especially with them holding the Q draft this coming year,'' Hilton said, adding that there is also money in the capital budget for some exterior paint at Eastlink Centre.

It is welcome news for fans who attend a lot of games at the complex.

"I've got to be honest, I always found (Internet) service in the rink not great. One second I can check the hockey scores; the next (my device) won't load anything. I can't even text,'' said Curtis Martell of Belfast. "(Bringing) Wi-Fi to Eastlink Centre is a great idea.''

On Twitter, Zoe Hewison also gave the news a thumbs up.

"That's good to hear. I can never get a signal there. They really need it,'' Hewison told The Guardian.

McGrath said the Wi-Fi system will be one that can be adjusted, depending on what is taking place at the complex. In addition, it will be a split feed, meaning the public will have access but there will be a secure feed for staff for things like ticket scanners.



Organizations: Eastlink Centre, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, The Guardian

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Belfast

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Recent comments

  • Downtowner
    February 11, 2016 - 12:46

    Hear where the City is going to 'fix' Queen Elizabeth Dr. so tour busses and the Harbour Hippo will be banned from going there. Talk about power. I am surprised the rest of the City Council is going along with that, but then again, we always knew who ran the place. Wonder if they will ban cars with out of province licence plates too? Better yet, Clifford can put gates up for them by Brighton Rd. and Charlotte Drive, - passage through only with 'snob' cards.

  • Indigo
    February 11, 2016 - 12:36

    The plain fact is the City has too much money to throw around, and as long as we keep on electing the same people, there will be no consideration of how hard it is for some people to keep body and soul together and pay the property taxes. The City gains every year as the assessment and taxes automatically creep up. I am surprised that sensible people like Mitch, Jason Coady and Doiron don't have enough empathy to try to convince others to be more frugal. I hope that the next election will finally get Clifford out of the picture, and daylight reach into the dark corridors of City Hall.

  • rob
    February 11, 2016 - 09:02

    20 000 to 3.5 million thats a drastic swing

  • james
    February 11, 2016 - 05:30

    It seems like a neccessity more and more these days, it's great when establishments have wireless access but I almost wonder if we are losing something in the process. It's really a tragedy to see people at public/sporting events glued to their devices.

  • jill
    February 10, 2016 - 19:28

    Because people go to these events to stare at their phones like idiots while they miss the game right in front of them lol.

  • vick
    February 10, 2016 - 18:24

    Hmmmmm "Eastlink Center"? Now correct me if I am wrong but doesnt "east link" provide internet service such as wifi? So if their a name holder of the building coldnt they throw in WIFI? Or is this a way of giving "east link" back their sponsor money? You would think "Eastlink" could provide WIFI the same as other corporations provide WIFI in facilities for example when I am in the Toronto airport I go on WIFI and its free sponsored by a bank letting me know that they are paying for my WIFI! I hope you did your homework on this folks!

    • Millennial
      February 10, 2016 - 23:32

      Just because Eastlink has purchased the naming rights of the building, that does not mean they have anything to do with providing the facility with "the WIFI"