Fundraising for Smithers’ new arena is down to its final weeks and the Second Sheet of Ice committee is still $140,000 short of their $400,000 goal.
Not hitting the target would likely see the arena install one less set of $80,000 bleachers during construction.
Fortunately, the designers had the foresight to make the project easily changeable so they can add to the arena later, once it’s been completed.
“The whole arena is being designed that way,” Town of Smithers councillor Frank Wray said. “For example, we can add seating on the mezzanine, should we choose to at a later date.”
At the next advisory board meeting, the committee will find out the exact costs associated with not installing the bleachers and whether or not it would be more expensive to install down the road.
Currently the plan allots 394 seats in the arena, but, without the bleacher that number would be about 320, Second Sheet of Ice Committee member Al McCreary said.
“At the end of the day, it’s more important for people to have a place to skate than it is for spectators to have a place to sit,” he added.
Another option might be to have town council loan the money to the rink until the fundraising goal is met, though that doesn’t sound likely at this point.
Of course, this could all be moot if the committee meets its fundraising target.
“We are in our final drive,” McCreary said. “We have some commitments and some people are getting back to us, but it’s going to be awful close.”
McCreary says there is still a good chance they will meet the goal.
The Second Sheet of Ice Committee don’t have any specific fundraisers planned, but they are making a lot of phone calls.
“We are at the point where we have all the contacts and it’s just a matter of talking to people. Everyone is aware of where we are and we know that at the end of the day the building is going to be great,” committee member Erin Rowsell said.
The committee has re-sent their updated sponsorship donors and are asking people and businesses in the community to get the word out.
There is also the grant option.
“We are looking at a couple of grants right now,” Rowsell said. “We received some information from Nathan Cullen and there is a BC Hydro grant available.”
Overall though, the project is on schedule and ready to open in mid-September.
“We are pretty happy with where we are at right now,” McCreary said. “We’ve had a mild winter that we hadn’t counted on and were within about a week of our initial schedule.”
The framing for the building arrived last weekend and, once the exterior is complete in the summer, three separate contractors will come in to finish the concrete flooring, refrigeration and boards.
“These are very specialized areas and that’s why we had to hire separate contractors,” McCreary said. “But everything is booked, signed and sealed.”
Final costs for the arena are expected to come in on budget at $4.7 million and completion is set for late September.