NEW ARENA - Garth Warner, president and CEO of Servus Credit Union, and Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer unveiled the official plaque to commemorate the opening of the Servus Credit Union arena. Todd Colin Vaughan/Red Deer Express

WATCH: Servus Credit Union Arena officially opens to public

The new arena will host men’s and women’s hockey at the 2019 Canada Winter Games

Red Deer is one step closer to hosting the 2019 Canada Winter Games after the City officially opened the Servus Credit Union Arena.

“Today marks the beginning of our next era of community history. It has been a few years in the making and we are so very proud to showcase and open this facility,” Mayor Tara Veer said.

The new $21.6 million arena, which is located at the site of the former Red Deer arena, was completed six months ahead of schedule and has already began hosting community groups including the Red Deer Vipers, the AAA Optimist Chiefs, Red Deer Ringette, the Red Deer Figure Skating Club and several more.

“This arena meets modernized sporting standards,” Veer said. “It is built to a higher environmental standard and it positions Red Deer, not just for on-ice sports to come, but for many community events and festivals in the future.”

The facility will also be the home of men’s and women’s hockey at the 2019 Canada Games, as well as the Red Deer host facility for the 2018 Ivan Hlinka Hockey Tournament. The early completion of the building allowed Red Deer to welcome the Ivan Hlinka.

“It is not very often a government has the privilege to say a project is not only on-budget and on-time, but opening six months in advance,” Veer said. “It certainly made good sense once the arena was available to open the facility six months early and make it available to Red Deerians to maximize this sports season.”

As part of the City’s 15-year partnership with Servus Credit Union, Red Deer’s new arena will also be hosting a free-family skate night the first Thursday of every month from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“We signed on to a 15-year commitment to partner with the City of Red Deer on the Servus Arena because we believe in helping to build resilient and prosperous communities long-term,” Garth Warner, president and CEO of Servus Credit Union said in a press release.

Veer pointed out the several heritage elements of the new arena including the old arena sign from the Red Deer Arena, the score clocks which have been refurbished and the guard rails throughout the building which were made from the old bleachers.

“There was a long, proud 64-year history at the former Red Deer Arena,” Veer said.

With the Canada games coming and an aging arena, the decision to rebuild became clear.

“We had a 64-year-old building that was in need of updates to safety codes. It was recognized with the Games coming that instead of investing in 64-year-old facility, it was time to build a modern sports facility,” she said.

Veer also thanked the groups involved with the creation of the new arena.

“Certainly this project would not have been possible without the partnerships of many community organizations, our sponsors and the community groups that will use the facility and raise the next generation of athletes,” she said.

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