City, Esks may team up

FRANK LANDRY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:11 AM ET

The city may team up with the Eskimos to build a new public rec centre on the grounds of Commonwealth Stadium.

The matter got initial approval yesterday from a committee of council.

"I'm a supporter of that," said Mayor Stephen Mandel. "Citizens want us to get on with decisions, they want us to get on with consultations."

The city wanted to partner with NAIT to build a $76-million North Central Community Recreation Centre. NAIT was unable to secure provincial funding and the deal fell apart. That's when talks began with the Edmonton Eskimos.

While plans are very much in their infancy, the project could incorporate the existing fitness centre with a covered field house and indoor pool, all open to the public.

Rick LeLacheur, the Esks' president and CEO, said players would make good use of the field house.

"An indoor practice facility would be very helpful ... for players in the off-season. Right now they don't really have any place to work out, so many of them go south," he said.

The field house could also be used by minor sports teams, LeLacheur said.

Mandel said there will be public consultations.

Coun. Janice Melnychuk, who represents the area, said she doesn't want any hasty decisions to be made.

"I feel like we're being pressured to make a quick decision," said Melnychuk, who only learned of the proposal last week.

Roger Jevne, director of partner and facility development, said there is no cost estimate yet. He said it could be built by 2010.


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