With Kin 1 now a closed-off construction site, organizers of the 100th annual Prince George Exhibition have had to enact temporary measures to make up for the lost space.
Two large tents have been set up in the east parking lot adjacent to CN Centre to accommodate the Silver Stetson stage area for the PGX headline acts and an adjacent beer garden/concession.
The musical lineup for the outdoor Stetson Stage includes 54-40, The Stampeders, BC/DC, Sound Addiction, KROME, Rick Stavely, the Powder Blues Band and Ridley Bent. Entry to those concerts will be included in the price of fairgrounds admission. The five-day fair starts next Wednesday.
Built for the 2015 Canada Winter Games, the $16 million Kin Centre project involves demolition of the existing Kin 1 and replacement with a 1,000-seat arena, accomplished in two stages. The first phase, now nearing completion, required moving all utility lines located underneath the Kin 1 parking lot as well as construction of five new dressing rooms on the west side of Kin 2, which will be ready for the fall season. Timing of the utility work had to be carefully orchestrated to avoid disruptions to fairgoers. The parking lot area will be required for the PGX and work crews had just three months from when the project began in May to complete it.
"We've designed the entire construction schedule to accommodate the 100th anniversary of the PGX," said Andy Beesley, CN Centre and community arenas manager.
"A lot of the underground work has already taken place. That involves moving water lines, hydro lines, and gas lines. That work is finished and the contractor has covered it up and they are grading it and packing it down so the construction fence line can be moved right close to Kin 1."
With Kin 1 out of commission, exhibit space at Kin 2 and 3 and CN Centre will be used during the PGX. In years past, CN Centre wasn't required for fair events. Beesley said CN Centre will continue to be available for concerts, but there won't be any longterm bookings made until the new ice surface at Kin 1 is ready.
The PGX will also benefit from a design change in the original Kin Centre redesign plan to expand the seating capacity of Kin 2 from the current 250 to 650. Instead of a permanent seats, the building will be fitted with portable bleachers, which will be used next week at the rodeo grounds during the fair.
"We fast-tracked construction of the portable bleachers and that's a big victory for everybody because that's something the rodeo grounds have been lacking," said Beesley.
Once the fair ends on Aug. 12, Kin 1 will torn down, leaving only the atrium area on the southwest side of the building and the adjacent lounge side untouched. Construction crews can then begin rebuilding the arena from the ground up.
The new arena will feature moveable boards that can be expanded into the seating area to accommodate an Olympic-sized ice surface. The boards will have interchangeable panels that are transparent, built for sledge hockey, and players' benches will be at the same level of the ice surface to allow easier access for disabled athletes.
The current lounge that runs the length of the building between Kin 1 and Kin 2 will be totally revamped to include balcony seating for both rinks directly accessible from the concession/lounge area. Sight lines from the lounge to both rinks will be greatly improved and the food services available will be considerably upgraded.
The city will have only five indoor ice surfaces until Kin 1 reopens in October 2013. Aside from more early-morning practices for minor hockey teams and more late nights for rec hockey players, Beesley doesn't foresee any problems accommodating all user groups.
"There will be disruptions and there will be the need to continue to accommodate differences this year," Beesley said. "But, overall, people are losing no ice time this year and it's working remarkably well in five arenas."