Calgary completes $14 million in upgrades on Max Bell Centre

Max Bell Centre on Friday, January 7, 2022. The City of Calgary spent $14 million on upgrades to make the facility more accessible to the public. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

The City of Calgary completed significant upgrades to the Max Bell Centre, on time and on budget, this week.

The upgrades cost $14 million and included quality of life and facility maintenance upgrades. Construction began in May of last year.

“Max Bell Centre is an important community asset serving diverse groups,” said James McLaughlin, acting director of Calgary Recreation.

Staff at the facility were equally proud of the upgrades, saying that they made the facility more accessible to Calgarians, many of whom use the Centre as an inner-city community hall.

Ward 9 Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra agreed. He called the upgrades a way of ensuring that Calgarians have access to quality recreation facilities.

“Max Bell Centre is much more than arenas—it’s a place for the community to gather, host events and stay active,” he said.

The facility is used more than half a million times each year.

Better hockey for players, patrons

New thicker board glass, dasher boards, and safety netting were installed in the Ken Bracko Arena. Additionally, brand new LED lighting has made the arena brighter and more energy efficient.

Fans of the Calgary Canucks will now have more accessible seating, with dedicated viewing spots for patrons in wheelchairs.

Windows have also been added between the Ken Bracko Arena and Arena #2.

New safety netting and LED lighting were added to Arena #2, along with a virtual play mat for kids and cardio workout machines for adults.

Players now have upgraded change rooms as well with new equipment hook boards, washroom, and shower facilities.

Potable water access points have been installed throughout the facility for guests and players to fill water bottles.

Lifecycle upgrades

The Max Bell Centre’s lobby has been redesigned, centralizing guest services at the Ken Bracko Arena entrance. New washrooms have been added, and the concession area has been completely renovated.

Gone though is the skate sharpening nook, as the tenant for that space had to close because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Centre is currently looking for a new tenant to take over that space.

Significant upgrades have been done to the HVAC systems in the building, along with upgraded fire prevention and safety systems.

And for Calgarians who enjoy one of the best views of Calgary’s downtown skyline available, new LED lighting has been added to the parking lot for after-hours use, and the parking lot has been resurfaced.

Expanding user groups

One of the goals for the upgrades was to expand the number of user groups able to use the Max Bell Centre. To that end, the board rooms have been transformed into multi-purpose spaces able to host fitness classes, meetings, or other gatherings.

The Centre has been the hosting facility for a number of festivals such as Chasing Summer, Omatsuri, and the Canada Day Block Party.

“These improvements will mean a better and more accessible experience for sport participants, cultural groups, families and community partners,” said McLaughlin.

Hockey players had a game at the Ken Bracko Arena at the Max Bell Centre on Friday, January 7, 2022. The arena had new boards, thicker safety glass, safety netting, and other accessibility features installed. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Hockey players had a game at the Ken Bracko Arena at the Max Bell Centre on Friday, January 7, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
The Max Bell Centre upgraded their locker rooms, photographed on Friday, January 7, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
The Max Bell Centre upgraded their locker rooms, photographed on Friday, January 7, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
New safety netting was installed at the Max Bell Centre, pictured on Friday, January 7, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
A new interactive play area for kids at the Max Bell Centre, photographed on Friday, January 7, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Hockey players are reflected through the new windows installed between arenas at the Max Bell Centre on Friday, January 7, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
The Max Bell Centre upgraded their washrooms with new stalls, hand dryers, and accessibility for people with mobility challenges, pictured on Friday, January 7, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
The Max Bell Centre upgraded their lobby as part of a series of facility upgrades, photographed on Friday, January 7, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

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