Since Prospera Place opened in 1999, GSL Group and the City of Kelowna have been in a public-private partnership.
However, last Thursday, the city announced their 30-year partnership, which will end in 2029, is coming to an end.
The city owns the land the rink sits on and some, but not all, of the parking lot surrounding the building.
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to GSL, the current owner-operator of Prospera Place, for their management of this key community facility for the past 24 years,” Mayor Tom Dyas said in a statement.
“GSL has been a valuable partner in bringing entertainment, culture, and sports to our city, and we appreciate their contribution to our vibrant downtown.”
In response, GSL president and CEO Graham Lee says they’ve expressed interest in working out a new long-term deal with the city.
“Since we know the building so well, and we built it 26 years ago and we designed it as well, we kinda know where the areas are that are most-cost effective to increase the overall user enhancement,” said Lee.
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“So that’s what we want to do is increase the overall experience in the building.”
One of those experiences would be Kelowna hosting another Memorial Cup tournament. The arena, though, isn’t deemed fit enough to host the popular four-team event, with dressing room issues being at the top of the problems list.
The rink issues have been noted for years, though GSL said its new proposal includes plans for new and expanded seating and dressing rooms, concourse upgrades, new amenities, as well as other audio-visual technology like a new high-resolution scoreboard.
Dyas told Global News that he hasn’t had a chance to review GSL’s sudden proposal.
“It’s fairly common knowledge that there are a number (of) upgrades, and they are not maintenance items that need to be done to that building,” said Dyas.
“So that will be something that we will be able to answer once we review the proposal in greater depth.”
The rink and property are assessed at $40.3 million, while the front, two-acre parking lot is assessed at $26.8 million.
Several reports, including this one, listed the rink’s construction at $20 to $21 million. According to Lee, the cost to construct Prospera Place was $24 million, with GSL investing more than 70 per cent.
Lee says his group is willing to invest “millions” more to contribute to improving Prospera Place for the future, and estimates the work would take seven months to complete.
“The range is $18-22 million to get them done, and I think we could amortize this over 15 years,” said Lee, “and the cost would be shared between the city and us around $2 million a year.”
Lee says that $18-$22 million “would be a great improvement to the building, but not at a ridiculous price.”
Asked why now instead of doing the upgrades years ago, Lee said their process started in 2017.
“At that time, we had 12 years left. So we’ve been trying to get there the best we can,” said Lee, adding video and lighting upgrades were completed. “They are on our radar.”
In their proposal, GSL says if the city decides to go with a different partner, the group will continue to work cooperatively with the city and the rink’s main tenant, the Kelowna Rockets, until the current agreement expires.
“It’s up to the city in the end,” said Lee. “If they want to discuss it further, we’re open to that.”
© 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.