Camrose's new Edgeworth Centre is more than just a hockey rink.
Craig Cripps isn’t one to boast but ask him about the Edgeworth Centre and he sounds like a proud hockey dad talking about his all-star son.
"State of the art and the sky is the limit," says Cripps, the president of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. "I am all about facilities and this is the way of the future of Junior A hockey."
The Edgeworth Centre is more than just a hockey rink. After years of studying the community's recreational and leisure needs, the City of Camrose built a multi-purpose arena that serves both as a hub of the community and meets the changing recreational needs of East-Central Alberta.
It may play host to AJHL's Camrose Kodiaks, but the Edgeworth Centre is also the home of a three-lane fitness track, a fitness centre and a physiotherapy and physiology lab that is linked to the University of Alberta. There are multi-purpose rooms capable of holding conventions and a children's playroom to accommodate parents who are participating in fitness activities or attending a meeting. This is all under one roof.
The Edgeworth Centre represents the changes in Canadian society. People want more than just a hockey rink. They want a place that is a real hub of activity, whether it is a family or an individual working out in the gym or fitness centre, using walking track or playing hockey on one of the sheets of ice.
"Everybody benefits from that building," says Cripps. "When you have that, your volunteers embrace you more and the community embraces you more. It really generates a lot of excitement."
Truth be known, Camrose isn't the only Junior A community that has a new building designed to meet the needs of the local area, including the hockey team. The list also includes Penticton, Langley and Westside in the BCHL, St. Albert and Okotoks in the AJHL, Estevan in the SJHL, along with Portage and Dauphin in the MJHL, just to name a few.
But becoming the focal point of the community is only part of the equation, however.
The second part is the economic factor, and suffice to say a modern multi-purpose arena can have a major economic impact in a community.
It's safe to assume that the 2008 World Junior A Challenge would be in another city if it weren't for the Edgeworth Centre. A world-class event deserves a world-class facility, and the World Junior A Challenge is just one of the major international slated to visit Camrose in the next five years.
The 2008 World Junior A Challenge will still be fresh in the minds of resident of Camrose when a top-notch curling event comes to town in the form of the Continental Cup of Curling, a tournament with a Ryder Cup format featuring the reigning world champions, Canada’s Kevin Martin and Jennifer Jones, and 2006 Olympic gold medalist Anette Norberg of Sweden.
The Edgeworth Centre will also play host to the Alberta Ladies Provincial Curling Championship in 2011, and the Men's Provincial Curling Championship in 2012.
For local businessman Kevin Gurr, putting on the 2008 World Junior A Challenge has opened up his eyes to the limitless possibilities for the Edgeworth Centre.
"I think we are just starting to realize the potential here," said Gurr, who is co-chair of the host committee. "We're looking at volleyball tournaments, a major dog show, concerts, you name it. We can take this place to another level."
"The World Junior A Challenge is like putting our feet to the fire. We're ready. It will be a busy year but we're ready.
"We're really proud of the Edgeworth Centre."
The people of Camrose should be.