It was announced that the WHL board of Governors have approved the relocation of the Kootenay Ice to Winnipeg where they will play as the Winnipeg Ice. The Chairman of 50 Below Sports + Entertainment Grey Fettes says that part of the relocation involves construction of a 4,500 seat arena. Until then, the team will play their first two seasons in Winnipeg at Wayne Fleming Arena which is located on the University of Manitoba Campus.
An expansion of seating from 1,400 to 2,000 will occur as well as many technical and structural upgrades to bring it in line with WHL standards. Brandon Wheat Kings owner Kelly McCrimmon was supportive of the move saying "First and foremost, it is good for the Western Hockey League. Winnipeg continues to raise the profile of our league." Brandon Manitoba is a 2 and a half hour drive from Winnipeg creating a natural geographic rival for the team.
Greg Fettes also says that True North Sports & Entertainment head Mark Chipman has given his blessing for the move. "I Speak with Mark pretty regularly and he's been a good friend and he's been very good to me through this process." He goes on to say that when the relocation process started "I was pretty upfront with him... I don't want to speak for Mark but I think he recognizes how important private investment is into Winnipeg and I think it's something he wants to support... Honestly, he's been a bit of a mentor for me these last three or four months."
The new 4,500 seat arena is set to be built adjacent to The Rink Hockey Academy's new headquarters on South Landing in the RM of MacDonald. The arena project is part of a wider commercial development plan which will require rezoning and cooperation with the municipality. The investors are not seeking any public money for the project.
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