It’s officially open, the Pomeroy Sports Centre.
Though the building opened its doors more than a year ago, the official celebrations, complete with fireworks, were Wednesday, Oct. 13, with more than a thousand people filling the space, many wandering around with yellow Booster Juice mugs from the newly opened concession on the second floor.
The biggest announcement of the evening was the name change from Enerplex to Pomeroy Sports Centre.
Ryan Pomeroy, President of Pomeroy Inn and Suites Inc., said his family has been in the area for a long time and it’s important to give opportunity back to the community that once gave them opportunity.
“For me and my family, sport was a big part of our lives and I think sport gives kids the opportunity to grow in a lot of different ways in life and I think for me if it wasn’t for sport, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish things I’ve accomplished today,” he said after the official naming ceremony.
“It’s really important that you can pay it forward and pass that along.”
Senator Richard Neufeld, who was MLA when the project first started, Premier Gordon Campbell, Peace River North MLA Pat Pimm, Healthy Living and Sport Minister Ida Chong, Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Bill Bennett, Minister of Forests and Range Pat Bell and Minister of Education Mary Polak were all on-hand to applaud the opening of the facility. As were Olympian gold medalist Denny Morrison, longtime national team speed skater Jay Morrison, local hockey player Lanny MacDonald and Canadian Sport Centre Chief Executive Officer Wendy Pattenden, and the Association for Community Living drummers, among others.
Mayor Bruce Lantz, who once was a skeptic of the project, said he was happy to see the official opening finally here.
“It’s been a long time coming, there have been a lot of bumps in the road going back two councils ago, but when you see the building the way it is today, when you see the well over a thousand people who showed up here tonight to be part of the grand opening, I think at this moment anyways, it was worth the effort,” he said smiling.
He said that a lot of the skeptics were skeptical more of the process than the project.
“I’ve talked to a lot of them and they are not skeptical now,” he said.
“When you visualize it first, there are a lot of unanswered questions. When the boards and the bricks and cement start coming together, then you see if for what it really is and what it can be.
“What we have now is a facility that can eventually be a cornerstone not just for Fort St. John and future generations in the city, but for all of Northeastern B.C.”
The 13,000-square-metre Pomeroy Sports Centre cost $44 million, with $15 million coming from the Province, as well as portions from the City of Fort St. John and the Fair Share Program.
The facility houses a sped skating oval, two NHL-size hockey rinks, seating for 1,000 spectators and a 380-metre suspended rubberized running track.
The speed skating oval is one of four indoor Olympic-size long track speed skating ovals in North America.
The Pomeroy Inn and Suites Inc. gave $1.5 million over 15 years to be the title sponsor. There are nine other corporate partners currently totally over $2.8 million over the next 15 years.