Calgary arena upgrades make hockey tournaments, spectator events possible

$12.5 million upgrades finished on Rose Kohn and Jimmie Condon Arenas

Ward 11 Councillor Kourtney Penner gets some figure skating instruction from international ice dancing competitor Jacob Portz at the newly renovated Rose Kohn and Jimmie Condon Arenas in Calgary on Friday, April 8, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Calgarians looking to enjoy some figure skating, watch some hockey, or just get together have a few new options.

The City of Calgary announced the completion of $12.5 million in upgrades to a pair of legacy arenas in the city’s southwest.

The Rose Kohn and Jimmie Condon Arenas, originally built in 1963 and 1983, received substantial facelifts and maintenance improvements.

“Investing in upgrades of our civic facilities is important especially in established neighbourhoods,” said Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner.

The most public-facing change was the installation of an NHL regulation-sized rink in the Jimmie Condon Arena. But renovations of locker rooms, washrooms, an upgraded front entrance, and brand new meeting/multi-purpose rooms were also among the changes.

The Calalta figure skating club was taking full advantage of the new ice on Friday, with one of their international level competitors giving a brief ice dancing lesson to Coun. Penner as part of the re-opening.

“With the expansion of this size of the ice they were able to deliver their full program here. Whereas before, they were having to move around and be in different buildings across the city,” said Jarret Hoebers, a recreation service delivery manager with the City of Calgary.

“It also allows us to have the flexibility to offer a wider range of hockey opportunities as well,” he said.

New spectator seating also transformed the arena, increasing capacity from approximately 60 previously to more than 240.

Elladj Balde, former competitive figure skater and 2008 Canadian Championships junior title winner, does a backflip on skates at the Rose Kohn and Jimmie Condon Arenas in Calgary on Friday, April 8, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

On time, on budget, and on point for safety

Significant upgrades were also made to the refrigeration system, HVAC, and lighting throughout the arenas. The number of refrigeration plants was reduced to one from two, and the amount of ammonia required to provide cooling is less than 10 per cent of the old system.

Maintenance of the refrigeration systems is now much safer for city staff, potentially avoiding the dangerous and sometimes tragic outcomes seen at other arenas across the nation.

The new combined system is 5 to 10 per cent more energy efficient than the dual systems previously. The compressors used now are between 15 to 20 per cent more efficient, while also being able to go for longer periods without needing overhauling, leading to reduced operating costs.

“That was a huge gain for us in terms of our ability to operate the facility in an efficient way,” said Hoebers.

Upgrades were also made to save energy through the use of natural lighting, and LED lights.

The facility is also brighter through the use of colour. Vibrant colours now adorn a number of the hallways, and one orange paint scheme is jokingly referred to as the Kraft Dinner wall.

The goal though was to make the arenas more fun and inviting for the public and to make users feel welcome. Which, besides fun paint schemes, also includes interactive projector games for kids inside the upgraded multi-purpose rooms.

The locker rooms are larger, modernized, and can now support full-sized hockey teams. The bench areas in the Rose Kohn Arena are now full length, no longer requiring teams to double up.

“This facility serves everyone from first-timers, to professionals … to TikTok stars,” said Penner.

It was also estimated that the project generated 49 full-time jobs, and $7 million to the city’s GDP.

To celebrate the re-opening, the City of Calgary is holding a free skating event at the arenas on Saturday, April 9, from 5 to 7 p.m.

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