Numerous changes and additions have turned Canada Olympic Park into training hub for multiple sports, but the most significant expansion to date is the construction of a $204-million Winter Sport Institute. The facility has opened in phases, starting with three NHL-sized rinks followed by an international-sized arena and office tower housing Hockey Canada, Alpine Canada and the National Sport School. The third and final phase scheduled to be completed in April is an indoor, dryland training center.
It will be a complex similar to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., and the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.
"In our best dreams, we did not anticipate how good it has gotten as we speak today," King said of the institute.
The endowment funds are not paying for the Winter Sport Institute. The federal and provincial governments and the City of Calgary are combining to contribute about $130 million toward the project.
WinSport funds its share via other means, including the sale of real estate on the south side of Canada Olympic Park. But the institute blends with the existing legacies from 1988, which cost millions to maintain and upgrade to current standards. WinSport pays the majority of the annual operating budget of the Oval at the University of Calgary, and footed the $9.7-million bill for a new roof completed last year.
Of the five 1988 venues, the Saddledome's days may be numbered. With Edmonton planning to build a new arena for its NHL team, the speculation is Calgary won't be far behind.
"The facilities that we were handed, and you look at anywhere in the world, even including Whistler, there is nothing that remains as functional as this," O'Neill said. "When you hand the baton off to someone else, they're responsible for making it better in whatever way. I think we've been fortunate enough here in Calgary, that each time that baton has been handed to someone else, they made a little bit of an improvement on what the person did before.
"We've been able to do that over 25 years and I think that's an incredible feat."
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.