Funding for Olympic Oval secured

The Olympic Oval is one of the most prominent legacies of the 1988 Olympic Games but, over 20 years later, the facility is old and in need of upgrades.

Over the course of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games the Oval’s future looked uncertain and questions were raised about future funding.

Announced Nov. 9, the Olympic Oval will receive $10 million from the federal government’s Olympic Endowment Fund to help it continue to operate over the next 20 years.

Most of the funding will upgrade infrastructure like repairs to the roof. Another $2.4 million will go annually towards the operating costs of the facility.

“It’s an expensive building, it’s not just like freezing water and then we go from there. You can’t just have lights on, you need to have the people in here, the programs to make this happen,” said two-time Olympic gold medalist and Olympic Oval associate director Catriona Le May Doan. “The uncertainty was that it did change every year and so now there isn’t an uncertainty. That’s what is so exciting.”

The Olympic Endowment Fund rules were changed to make funding available to the Oval. The OEF was instituted for the 1988 Olympics Games.

“Having the world’s premiere speed skating oval on the University of Calgary campus is another element that makes this institution world class,” said U of C president Dr. Elizabeth Cannon in a press release. “The Olympic Oval provides unique opportunities for recreation and research.”

“Clearly it needed to happen and this is an amazing facility,” said Hon. minister of state for sport Gary Lunn. “It’s trained so many athletes. This Oval has an amazing life left in it, another 20 or 25 years.”

The funds allow the Olympic Oval to remain an elite speed skating facility and a national training center.

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