Dal's new arena one stride closer to reality

Dalhousie's Memorial Arena before demolition in 2012
Dalhousie's Memorial Arena before demolition in 2012

Source: Mary Jane Webber, Dalhousie Communications & Marketing

The crowd cheers, a player scores and spectators rise to their feet as the Dal Tigers skate to a repeat AUS hockey championship on home turf in a brand new arena in the middle of the Dal’s Halifax campuses.
In a few short years, this may well be the reality at 5846 South Street.
That’s because the Nova Scotia government has just announced a land-transfer deal is in the works that will see the project to replace Dal’s old arena, demolished in 2012, move ahead at that location
“Dalhousie is very appreciative of the Province of Nova Scotia’s generous contribution to this project,” says Dalhousie President Richard Florizone. “The new arena will be a wonderful addition to our community as it will address the ice needs of varsity competitive athletics, intramural and club recreation, in addition to serving broader community needs and post-secondary partnerships.”
Fitness and recreation continue to be a priority for Dal. The construction of this new arena is a key component in a broader revitalization that also includes a new Fitness Centre scheduled to open in 2018.
The new arena will feature an NHL-sized ice surface with six team dressing rooms, a referee room, a lobby and service area, and spectator seating.
Construction of the arena — to be owned and operated by Dal — is anticipated to cost in the range of $18 million and will be primarily financed through fundraising.
“Today’s announcement is a key step in moving plans for Dal’s arena proposal forward,” says Ian Nason, Dal’s vice president of finance and administration. “There is still significant work to be completed through our internal capital projects planning process and we will update our stakeholders as that process moves forward.”

A location that works

Dalhousie began searching for a location for the arena shortly after tearing down Memorial Arena in 2012 to make way for LeMarchant Place, a mixed-used building that opened in 2014. Roof and air-quality issues combined with overall maintenance problems also meant that the cost of repairing the aging facility would be nearly as much as building a new one.
Dal’s priority was to find a location that would meet the needs of the university, post-secondary partners and the surrounding community.
Dal and the province are still finalizing the terms of the lease for the land located near the corner of Robie and South streets, but the expectation is that it will be offered to the university for a nominal amount.
"We want to put the land to work for the community," said Labi Kousoulis, Minister of Internal Services in a statement on behalf of Geoff MacLellan, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. "Dalhousie's proposal is for an arena that will provide wide ranging benefits for students, varsity athletes as well as the broader community. It will provide a place for residents to be active and will serve as a community rink for local schools and school children."
Dal will work closely with the community and the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) to carry out a full planning process, which will include a traffic study, a public information meeting, a public hearing, and more. Site preparations and construction will follow. The anticipated opening of the arena will be announced at a later date.

The arena will be built on an existing parking lot and will maintain access to parking prior to and following construction.
Nearby baseball fields and a popular sledding hill will not be affected by the project.

Transforming hockey and student activity at Dal

Since the loss of Memorial Arena years ago, Dal teams have had to travel a longer distance and cover transportation costs to get to an alternative facility off campus.
The new arena will alleviate those hurdles and help ensure Dal gives hockey players and others at the university the facility they need to thrive.
"Having an arena at this location will be transformative for our varsity and intramural hockey teams and for those interested in other ice sports and activities," says Kathie Wheadon, director of facility and business services with Athletics and Recreation at Dal. "This will do so much for campus life. It's bringing the games and excitment back to Dal."