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City council to debate Revolution Place renovations this fall

A decision on how much to spend on renovations to Revolution Place could be made this fall. Grande Prairie city council has pushed discussion to its fall budget talks, and has also asked for a public consultation plan.

Grande Prairie Mayor Bill Given says he wants to make very clear council has not approved expanding Revolution Place, but the idea remains on the table for future development.

“What council asked administration to do was more detailed work on getting an exact cost of an expansion that would get the facility up to 5,000 seats and expand the conferencing facilities, along with the other expansions that were mentioned,” he says. “We asked administration to get more detailed cost estimates on that concept so that we could consider whether or not we want to move forward with that when we review the 2021 budget.”

Two options are currently under consideration for renovating Revolution Place. The first, a small renovation, would see an expanded lobby space and the number of entry points into the building, the addition of a loading dock to the west side, and three luxury suites on the east side of the arena.

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The estimated project cost is approximately $4 million, with an annual debt servicing payment of just over $310,000 annually over 15 years. When combined with what the city already pays, its contribution each year over that time would be around $2 million a year, which comes to just less than a two per cent tax increase.

Revolution Place General Manager Catherine Ridgeway says the smaller renovation would carry an impact to improve guest experiences at the facility, though expressed doubts it would do much more beyond that.

“The option will enhance guest experiences for sure, yet it has a minimal impact on the revenue potential for the venue,” she says.

The other option is a full renovation and revitalization of Revolution Place. The larger expansion would see the arena capacity increased to 5,000 seats, 20 viewing suites, separate lobbies for the arena and event centre and expanded kitchen amenities. It would also see the addition of a loading dock, increased square footage for events, and reconfigured changerooms to include a fitness centre, as well as designated change rooms for events and games.

Ridgeway recommended should council decide to pursue this option, that they budget out $55 million to see it to completion. Debt service payments combined with the city’s annual contribution would have the city paying approximately $3.2 million annually for 30 years.

“The need remains, but the price continually increases. I feel the scope of the project could be reworked to hit a desired budgetary level, but a tradeoff would have to be made,” she says.

Given says he believes it is important for council to consider the most cost-effective and beneficial way to go about proceeding, should they choose to spend any money.

“Personally, I believe that if we’re going to invest in Revolution Place, now is a good opportunity for us to do that full renovation that gets it to a stage where it can have a much greater economic impact in the community and in the region.”

Early indications suggest a fully built-out facility could have an impact of $3.5 million to $5 million of annual economic spin-off into local businesses.

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