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Maritime sports facilities still face bills with no revenue coming in
SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- Some of the biggest and most expensive sports and recreation facilities in the Maritimes all have one thing in common these days: they’re all closed indefinitely.
The pandemic has put a lot of sports on hold, but the cost of maintaining those facilities is far from frozen. Saint John's Field House is the newest sports and recreation facility in the Maritimes. The $27-million dollar building opened less than a year ago before anyone had ever heard of COVID-19.
"With the requirements of the province and public health, we had to shut down and we remain closed," said Field House president Bill MacMackin. "Regrettably, we also had to lay off all of our staff."
MacMackin says a lot of sports and community events have been cancelled here.
"We have to live with this," he said. "This is about public health. It's about the health and safety of citizens in the community."
At the Zatzman Sportsplex in Dartmouth, N.S., repairs are being made to the pool.
Like other facilities, the building is closed, but employees are using the downtime to catch up on other things.
"We have the arena completely shut down," said Zatzman Sportsplex general manager Max Chauvin. "Our ice is out so we can replace the electrical service in there which was on our schedule to do."
In good times, the civic centre in St. Stephen hosts sports competitions and it is the go-to venue for community events; not anymore though.
"We're sitting on a huge facility right now," said St. Stephen Mayor Allan MacEachern. "Zero revenue coming in – zero – and that's a huge burden on the taxpayers of St. Stephen."
It costs about $1 million a year to operate the facility, similar to the operating cost at the Qplex in Quispamsis, where even a partial opening of the building is not in the cards.
"It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to open the walking track, when there's no ice surface open and no pool on the outside open," says Aaron Kennedy of the Town of Quispamsis. "Those are the revenue generators. People would have to maintain physical distance. You'd have limited numbers allowed to be in there, so for now, everything is closed."
While these facilities are shut down, a lot of sports organizations are shut out and it's widely anticipated that these facilities will be among the last buildings to be given the green light to reopen.