Above: New owners of the former Ray McDonald Sports Center from left: Bob Flegg, Andrew Archer and Fred Lobay. – Lucie Roy Photos
by Colin Smith
The Ray MacDonald Sports Center officially has a new owner.
The sale of the facility to the Alberta Arena Authority was formally announced at the regular meeting of Town Council held Tuesday at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre.
Finalization of the centre sale had been authorized by Council on June 23.
Alberta Arena Authority purchased the centre, including the hockey arena and the curling arena for $200,000.
It intends to offer arena ice time for hockey games, training and tournaments. The group plans to have the curling rink operate as usual, and is working with the Morinville Curling Club.
Renovations have been ongoing and the Ray MacDonald Sports Center is scheduled to reopen next week.
Andrew Archer, part of the ownership group, addressed the meeting.
Archer was a professional hockey player and has extensive experience in coaching, training, and private lessons, as well being in business development for the camps and catering field.
Co-owners are Fred Lobay and Bob Flegg. Lobay has been a dentist for 22 years. Flegg has 15 years of experience in arena operations and management in Edmonton, with experience in special events and affiliated. All three partners live in Stony Plain.
They connected through hockey, for which they share a passion. Their sons are hockey players, and they have been playing together for two years.
“As hockey parents and coaches we are acutely aware and understand the frustration that comes with the shortage of ice and the need for dynamic programming and development,” Archer said.
“The Alberta Arena Authority intends to solve this problem by offering not only space for practices and games, but also specific programming, including camps, tournaments and academies.”
Archer said the group recognizes the importance of the sports centre and its history to Morinville.
“We see this as an opportunity to continue the legacy of the Raymac. We believe you will see our renovations will only add to the charm of the building.”
He added, “We look forward to establishing a long-term relationship with the Town of Morinville and the community at large.”
Mayor Barry Turner thanked Alberta Arena Authority for the opportunity to find an innovative solution for the use of the centre, which otherwise might have been torn down.
Now, he said, it will “continue to provide a home for economic activity, as well as hockey.”
Turner also thanked the group for providing a stable future for Morinville’s curling club.
“I look forward to seeing the business thrive,” he concluded.
The sale does not include the parking lot, outdoor rink and playground/splash park.
Brad White, Morinville’s Director of Planning and Economic Development, previously told Council the business model is not expected to compete with the Morinville Leisure Centre’s Landrex Arena. There will be a non-compete agreement on ice rentals and rates.
In addition to $4100 per year in tax revenue, the town will save demolition costs of up to $2 million and $170,000 per year operating costs.