Arena could go west

New rink could be moved from Queen’s Centre to west campus

The news that the University is considering moving the new arena to West Campus came as a shock to several involved coaches and student athletes, but the Athletics Department was aware of the idea at least a month in advance.

Women’s hockey coach Harold Parsons said he hadn’t learned about the plan before reading the Oct. 7 issue of the Journal.

“I’ve been given no information or no knowledge of that at all,” he said. “My understanding is that plans are continuing as we were told and they’re building on main campus. If they happen to build a rink on west campus, I would have to wonder why they would go ahead and build a rink on west campus when they could refurbish the Memorial Centre, where we are now. It would do just as well.”

Parsons said the most important thing for his team is to have a consistent arena.

“For me as the coach of the program, we’re going to be happy if we get a dedicated rink,” he said.

Parsons said his team would prefer to keep the arena on main campus for the increased fan support, though.

“Certainly the appeal that we always felt we had was larger on campus,” he said.

Herb Steacy, associate director of athletics and recreation for facilities and business development, said the department has known about the proposal to move the new hockey rink to west campus for at least a month.

“There’s been an ongoing discussion for a period of time now around the cost overruns on the Queen’s Centre,” he said. “That’s an option that’s been put on the table and it has been on the table for the past month, anyway.”

Steacy said the department chose not to inform the affected coaches and athletes from hockey and figure skating because it wasn’t a firm proposal yet.

“We haven’t really talked directly to any of our athletes or figure skating groups,” he said. “We didn’t really want to speak to them until we thought the University would take us in that direction or seriously consider that direction.”

Steacy said there’s still a lot of study and consultation on the effects of the relocation that would have to be done before any move.

“We certainly haven’t gotten that far in the proposal yet,” he said. “We need to really take a hard look at it.” Steacy said the relocation might lead to a revitalization of west campus.

“There’s certainly some effects from not having it on main campus, but there could be some huge benefits,” he said. “We need to weigh that effect. … For example, increasing the student experience on west campus.”

Steacy said the department hasn’t been informed of the potential savings from the plan.

Men’s hockey head coach Brett Gibson said he heard rumours about the plan several months ago.

Gibson said he isn’t especially concerned about the idea.

“My thoughts are we just need an arena,” he said. “We need something we can attach to. … If it’s on west campus or not, it doesn’t really matter.” Gibson said an arena located off main campus might decrease the team’s attendance if Queen’s doesn’t provide enough shuttle service, though, as the team hasn’t been drawing as many fans to the Memorial Centre as they used to get at Jock Harty Arena.

“If you’re on campus, it’s easier for Queen’s students to get there,” he said. “It’s up to the athletics department to make sure that isn’t an issue.”

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