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Fort McMurray should draw WHL or AHL team: Germain

Fresh off a trip to Columbus, Ohio and Kansas City, Councillor Sheldon Germain says the sky’s the limit for sports in Fort McMurray.

Germain and others from the municipality were taken on a tour of an NHL rink and baseball stadiums created by 360 Architecture, which is designing the upcoming stadium expansion at Macdonald Island.

Germain says the Nationwide Arena district in Columbus showed him what potential there is here.

“We’ve got to start thinking big, thinking bold, and moving ahead,” he said. “I think it’s very realistic that we become a WHL city or become an AHL city, something along those lines, when we’re 250,000 [in population].”

He says the trip helped show how a new stadium can go well beyond just serving sports fans.

“Especially in Columbus with the layout of the [Columbus Clippers] baseball diamond,” he recounted. “It was all fit to serve families. Different types of seating for different types of families. It was so well out that it made me realize it’s not just about the sport. The sport is just one piece of an entertainment package.”

Germain says he’s focusing on the current expansion plans at Macdonald Island, but he hopes a new five thousand to eight thousand seat arena will eventually be built downtown as well.

“When we build it, I want it to be clear that the interface between that baseball [stadium], the lower townsite redevelopment, and the new hockey arena, has to be well thought-out to get the same kind of synergetic relationship that they have in Columbus and in Kansas City,” he insisted.

Council’s City Centre Area Redevelopment Plan goes to a vote on the 14th.

Published February 1, 2012