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Jungle Jim Hunter makes modified facility proposal

Jungle Jim Hunter has presented a modified proposal for a multi-million dollar Sundre recreation facility, including two ice arenas, to town council.
Hunter speaks with town councillors during last week’s governance committee meeting.
Hunter speaks with town councillors during last week’s governance committee meeting.

Jungle Jim Hunter has presented a modified proposal for a multi-million dollar Sundre recreation facility, including two ice arenas, to town council.

During last week's governance committee meeting, Hunter put forward his plans for what he is now calling a National Athletic Training Centre (NATC).

The project calls for the Town of Sundre to donate the land for the centre, although the exact location has not been determined, he said.

Three years ago Hunter put forward a plan to construct a multi-use facility he called the Sundre Sports, Health and Wellness Institute. That facility was to include two Olympic size skating rinks, indoor soccer and lacrosse boxes, running tracks, training and weight rooms, retail space, accommodation facilities, and food and nutrition services.

Following a number of public information meetings in 2008, where input was gathered from about two dozen community groups, the town and Jungle Jim Hunter Management (JHM) began talks on the project.

The Town of Sundre subsequently spent more than $20,000 on legal and meeting fees in an effort to prepare a so-called terms sheet outlining what Sundre was prepared to contribute to the project. That terms sheet has not been signed by the town and has not been made public.

During last week's governance meeting, Hunter appeared before councillors to outline his new plan for the NATC facility in Sundre.

The proposed new facility would include two ice arenas under one structure, a field house with indoor track, climbing wall, team building area, fitness training area, a teaching facility with state-of-the art video and computer technology, paralympic accessibility to all facilities and spaces, team parade route by statues and/or other visual tributes “to the greatest athletes in the world”, and a media centre and coaches' resource centre.

He told council the estimated first state capital costs of the project would be $6.5 million for the first 1,000 seat arena, $4 million for the field house, $500,000 for cleaning equipment such as the Zamboni ice resurfacer, $900,000 for fitness equipment, $700,000 for office, meeting rooms and furnishings.

The second stage would be $5 - $6 million for the second arena.

He said under the proposed project, the Town of Sundre would provide all roads and services up to the edge of the property where the centre would stand.

He said proposed NATC revenues would come from various sources, including 25 per cent from online training and membership, 17 per cent from specialized training, 17 per cent from tournaments, 20 per cent from summer camps, 14 per cent from team building seminars and corporate events, and seven per cent from community rentals.

The proposed six phases of the sports facilities portion of the project would be partnership agreements between the town and JHM; land acquisition and designation; master plan including site servicing plan, subdivision plan, land use classifications, site layout and circulation plan, development phases identified; arena replacement including land servicing engineering design, land serviced for arena, arena design plan, and completed arena; field house; and NATC completion of all interior ancillary areas and furnishings and equipment installation.

Commercial facilities at the centre would include a convention centre capability with tournament centre amenities, licensed lounge and restaurant, and a health facility for private tenants “offering medical, psychological, dental, pharmacy, physiotherapy, massage therapy, chiropractic, optometry and orthopedic services and products.”

The proposed six phases for the commercial facilities would be commercial agreements between the town and developer, agreement between the town, JHM and the hotelier, and land services for hotel and retail; hotel plan approved by town and hotel built by hotelier; retail plan approved by town and built by developer; retail space leased to tenants.

The preliminary schedule timeline would see the town and JHM partner agreement in place by mid 2011, land procurement by fall 2011, master plan in place by end 2011 or early 2012, arena replacement by Q2-Q4 2012, field house by Q4 2012 or Q 1, 2 2013, NATC fit-up by mid 2013, commercial agreements by Q4 2011 to Q4 2012, hotel by Q1 2013, retail occupation by mid 2014.

Hunter told councillors further public consultation will be undertaken.

“We see this as a working together relationship,” said Hunter. “I want it to be a shared responsibility.”

Councillor Tony Jordan said he liked the new proposal.

“I like what I've heard,” he said. “It sounds like a great plan to me.”

In response to a question from councillor Mike Baird, Hunter said he foresees negotiations between the town and JHM regarding the use of the arenas at a reduced rate for town and county users.

“We don't see any reason for the town to subsidize the use of the facility,” he said.

He said JHM would “allocate blocks of time for town and community use to ensure access.”

Asked by councillor Chris Vardas where he would like to see the facility built, Hunter said his preference at this time would be on town-owned land northwest of the rodeo grounds on the town's far northwest boundary.

“To me that would be the ideal location,” said Hunter.

At the conclusion of his presentation, Hunter said JHM wishes to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Town of Sundre to “work together over the next four months to establish a formal partnership agreement for the creation of the National Athletic Training Centre in Sundre.

“MOU execution is required now to minimize risks and ensure alignment of objectives for both of us.”

The matter of Jim Hunter's newest proposal was on the Feb. 28 town council agenda for further discussion (after press time).

Dan Singleton

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