It was a long time coming, but the wait was worth it.
Whitecourt’s Junior “A” hockey team finally has a space to call their own at the Scott Safety Centre.
The Whitecourt Wolverines celebrated the grand opening and ribbon cutting of the new expansion to the arena on Saturday, February 29th.
The Wolverines Centre facility features an exclusive dressing room for the Wolverines, coaches’ offices, a reception area, washrooms and showers, equipment room, laundry, and medical/physio space.
Decorating a wall of the hallway to the dressing room are plaques with the names of past and present Wolverine players who have been accepted to post-secondary schools for hockey. Another wall features the pictures of all the team’s captains and coaches, while a third wall pays tribute to Ryder and Radek and the R’n’R Memorial.
The project was a long time coming, in a process that lasted over four years from start to finish through consultation meetings between the Town and the team, to an agreement being signed, to final construction.
Mayor of Whitecourt, Maryann Chichak, says she is proud of the Town’s partnership with the team.
Wolverines Owner, Brent Stark says he is happy to see the new facility finally be built so the team has their own space, and he echoes the Mayor in saying this will help highlight the team and keep Junior “A” hockey in Whitecourt for years to come.
In October 2018, the Town of Whitecourt entered into a Renovation Contribution Agreement with Stark Sports Entertainment to build the 2,000 square foot expansion for the Wolverines. The initial cost of the project was $650,000, but that budget was increased to $800,000 in the spring of 2019 after the Request for Proposals came back.
Stark Sports and the Town agreed to cost-share the project, each contributing $400,000, with the team reimbursing the Town through a payment schedule.
Construction on the facility started in July 2019 and was set for completion by October, however, was delayed until January. The team finally moved into their new space on January 25th.
The new facility will free up dressing room space in the arena for other community groups to use now that the Wolverines have their own room.
When asked how this benefits the rest of the Town, Mayor Chichak said the hockey team and arena are an economic driver, bringing people from outside the region to Whitecourt for tournaments and games, in turn, helping local businesses through the revenue that is generated.
The economic benefits hockey brings to Whitecourt was one of the major driving forces in allowing the expansion project to be completed. Going forward, both the Town and team are happy to see hockey sticking around for years to come.