City, Cougars making improvements to CN Centre

Through a partnership with the City of Prince George and the Prince George Cougars, CN Centre is getting a host of improvements that will enhance the fans' experience no matter what the event.

Some of the upgrades are up to NHL standards, making a Cougars' game that much more comprehensive an experience.

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There is new flooring in the lobby, and soon there will be a new score clock, enhanced media, new seating and an improved sound system along with a new goal judge video system.

The new lobby surface was recently installed by Datoff Bros. Construction for $50,000.

The new score clock was originally priced at $390,000 but a recent city request for proposal process found that to replace the existing clock with one that had an equal amount of functionality would cost $546,000. The city will provide these funds and the Cougars will provide additional funding to enhance graphics and increase the number of camera locations and other media inputs.

This will allow instant replays like those used in the NHL and give fans the opportunity to see what the goal judges see so they can make their own call.

The new clock is expected to be installed in either late September or early October.

The cost of the lobby resurfacing and the replacement of the existing score clock was part of the budget set out in the city's capital plan for 2016.

"The investment in our infrastructure is to increase the life of CN Centre, which turned 20 years old," said Mayor Lyn Hall during a press conference Wednesday afternoon. "To have the major tenant in the building partner with us in these infrastructure upgrades is something new and innovative I think in our community. These improvements are going to help other tenants that utilize our building and that's important to us. The investment in CN Centre will enhance the fan experience not just for the Cougars' games but we hold a tremendous amount of events in this facility and it will certainly enhance each one of those events."

Significant five-year sponsorship came from Brownridge & Company Insurance. That sponsorship will see further enhancements to the bottom of the score clock, which is a digital ring that provides graphics and messages for the entertainment of fans.

"The sound system is sub par in our opinion and we felt we had to step up and make an improvement," said Greg Pocock, president of the Cougars. "The Cougars have contracted with Bill Russell to install sub woofers and do some upgrades to the sound system here in CN Centre. This is something the Cougars are paying 100 per cent of the cost for - we asked the city permission to do this - but we are paying for it and I do want to say to all of the Cougars fans who have talked to us over the years about the sound in this building, particularly those who wear hearing aids, we want you to know that we heard you loud and clear and things are going to be improved."

The Western Hockey League is upgrading video goal judge technology in all 22 facilities.

"The new Hawk-Eye video goal judge technology will be installed prior to the start of this year's season," said Pocock.

"This will enhance the ability of our goal judges to make the right decision. With our new score clock we can send a feed from the video goal judge system into the new score clock so our fans will get the opportunity to have the same view that the video goal judges are seeing."

New theatre-style seating is being installed and sees 44 seats situated near the end of the row of suites that offers fans open-air luxury seating in three small sections. This type of seating can be seen in modern arenas and stadiums giving fans the opportunity to enjoy beverages and food delivered to them and to access the suite level.

The seating is already sold out for the Cougars' season.

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