Retrofit doesn't look feasible
Gerry Murphy on its last legs

by Derek Neary
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 10/98) - A visiting structural engineer from Edmonton wouldn't recommend a retrofit for the Gerry Murphy Arena.

Jim Samborsky, founder and general manager of Samalta Design Associates Engineering Ltd., took a look at the aging arena Wednesday afternoon and said he'd build a bigger shell around the existing structure and the tear down the old, inner box.

However, he added that he has no interest, or time, to take on the project.

Samborsky was in Yellowknife on unrelated business with Eric Hovat of Hovat Construction. The two took a cursory tour of the building and found the columns and trusses to be splitting, leading to a rather gloomy prognosis.

Even with renovations, "it's only got 10 or 12 years before it's going to be in dire straits," Samborsky said. "The structure takes a beating."

"It's kind of bleak on the big picture," added Hovat, who said he would be interested in bidding on a portion of such a project.

There are also indications that the surrounding concrete foundation is moving at the back of the building. Samborsky said he couldn't provide a cost estimate to properly renovate the building. According to Hovat, the price tag would be substantially less than the $9 million for the proposed twin-pad arena complex but there are too many variables for a reliable estimate.

The last formal evaluation of the building was made in 1987 by Barr Ryder Architects and Planners. They found that the cost of retrofitting the Gerry Murphy Arena to make it last another 20 or 25 years was just slightly below the cost of building a new structure of similar size.

Samborsky said the site would be suitable for a new structure. But constructing a new exterior structure would likely run into next winter, meaning that the city residents would only have the Yellowknife Community Arena for at least one season, said Hovat.

Some skaters mentioned that they prefer the ice at the Gerry Murphy Arena to the Yellowknife Arena. The ice surface rests on a sand base, rather than a concrete floor.

Top of pageDiscussion boardSearch