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Charlottetown arena upgrades coming

Officials with the City of Charlottetown and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League meet in Charlottetown to discuss changes that the league says need to be made to all arenas in the next two years. From left, are Coun. Kevin Ramsay, chairman of the economic development, tourism and events management committee, Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown, Gilles Courteau, president of the QMJHL, Maxime Blouin, director of hockey operations for the QMJHL, and Wayne Long, events development officer with the City of Charlottetown.
Officials with the City of Charlottetown and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League meet in Charlottetown to discuss changes that the league says need to be made to all arenas in the next two years. From left, are Coun. Kevin Ramsay, chairman of the economic development, tourism and events management committee, Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown, Gilles Courteau, president of the QMJHL, Maxime Blouin, director of hockey operations for the QMJHL, and Wayne Long, events development officer with the City of Charlottetown. - Contributed

QMJHL says all arenas, including Eastlink Centre, will have to upgrade glass, boards and lighting

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

The City of Charlottetown is going to have to spend roughly $400,000 to upgrade its glass, boards and lighting at its arenas.

These changes are being mandated by the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) for every arena in the league.

The changes have to be made by May 31, 2021. The timeline is to give the company making the changes time to get around to all the arenas.

Gilles Courteau, president of the QMJHL, was recently in Charlottetown to talk to Mayor Philip Brown about the changes that are designed to reduce the number of concussions players suffer.

Courteau told Brown new boards and glass won’t eliminate concussions, but they should reduce them.

“The purpose of that, and we fully agree with him, is to increase the safety for players and mitigate concussions,’’ Brown said. “If there’s any additional costs to mitigate concussions and for player safety, I say the City of Charlottetown will have no problem in supporting that because safety is (a) priority for the city, and this is just a cost that is something that we would incur for any department.’’

“The purpose of that, and we fully agree with him, is to increase the safety for players and mitigate concussions. If there’s any additional costs to mitigate concussions and for player safety, I say the City of Charlottetown will have no problem in supporting that because safety is (a) priority for the city, and this is just a cost that is something that we would incur for any department.’’

- Mayor Philip Brown

Brown said he was told the upgrades would cost about $400,000 and that it would be a capital cost. The request for the money will have to come from the Eastlink Centre board of directors, which manages the facility for the city.

Brown and Courteau also talked about a report in Journal de Quebec that ranked Eastlink Centre third worst among arenas in the QMJHL, ahead of only Baie-Comeau and Gatineau. Courteau didn’t put much stock in the report, explaining that it was done by a couple of reporters in a coffee shop discussing their experience at the rinks.

“The only negative thing that I have heard from the media is the (small) size of the press box,’’ Courteau told The Guardian, referring to Eastlink Centre. “It’s not easy to work from the press box.’’

Brown said Courteau told him there is nothing scientific about the report, and there was no involvement from the QMJHL.

Courteau said the Eastlink Centre still meets the standards of the QMJHL.

“There’s no doubt it’s a functional building,’’ Courteau said. “In certain areas, they have the minimum standard. In other areas, they’re just above the minimum standards, which is OK. I have no complaints about it.’’

A new multi-purpose arena has been talked about for Charlottetown for years. A task force report in 2017 even recommended the city build a new 5,000-seat arena.

Courteau told Brown the city could build a 5,000-seat arena for about $52 million, a price that would jump to $82 million if the city were to add a second NHL-sized ice surface.

“(Courteau) said if the city is looking at a new facility the rule of thumb they use is every seat in a new arena will cost about $10,000 to $12,000,’’ Brown said.

The Charlottetown mayor told Courteau that the city’s first priority is dealing with its two community rinks — Simmons, which the task force recommended be demolished, and Cody Banks, which the task force said should be repurposed.

“We told him that we have to take care of our community rinks first and then move to the next step in identifying funding for a new multi-purpose sports and entertainment facility,’’ Brown said.


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