by Curtis J Phillips
Fort McMurray sports legends Chuck Knight, Terry Conroy, Frank Lacroix and Ron Morgan are no doubt looking down smiling and saying in unison one simple word, “Wow!”
But after having my first tour of Shell Place, I can tell my dear departed friends that the simplicity is quite complex.
Connected to the Suncor Community Leisure Centre, the growth of MacDonald Island continues. On June 12, 2015, Shell Place will make its regional debut with an official ribbon cutting ceremony.
No ordinary ribbon cutting ceremony though, but one that hopes to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records for most participants.
The following day, June 13, up to 15,000 fans can file into SMS Equipment Stadium to watch the Edmonton Eskimos play an exhibition Canadian Football League contest against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in what is billed as the Northern Kickoff.
It is the most northern CFL game ever played in its 101 year history.
Wow in unison again.
A total of 13 luxury skyboxes complement the gridiron.
The CNOOC Nexen Stage located at the southeast end of the football field, sits under a canopy which reminds one of the famous Sydney Opera House.
As part of their Blue Army Tour, Aerosmith will perform here July 19.
Attached to the stadium is a swanky ultra-modern baseball diamond with 1,725 seats.
Homerun balls will find themselves sailing to a large open berm in the right field which will have room for an additional 5,500.
Hopefully, one day, the much talked about proposed Fort McMurray semi-pro baseball franchise will play here. Once again the upper class may watch from an additional five suites.
Spacious banquet facilities and office space for social profit groups also find a home here.
The recreational opportunities continue with a fieldhouse and badminton centre.
If you want to check out SMS Equipment Stadium prior to the Northern Kickoff, news is that our local Fort McMurray Monarchs will be hosting the Lloydminster Vandals in Alberta Football League action June 6. Tickets $10 for 12 years and older, $5 for 5 to 12.
In its inaugural AFL season last year, the Monarchs received several awards including Defensive MVP Dave Bosch, Special Teams MVP – Skylor Letcher-Jones and Bosch again with Defensive Lineman of the Year.
Monarchs making first or second all star status in the nine-team league included Shane Dixon, Kevin Samuels, Skyler Leblanc, Jesse Maddox, Craig Kitchen, Chris Regnier, Dylan Elias along with Bosch and Letcher-Jones.
Tarzan wannabes, if you are into climbing, jumping, swinging or zipping through the tree tops then Vista Ridge’s WildPlay Wood Buffalo is for you.
Based on “nature-based games on unique “pawd”-mounted obstacles” with “multi-level platforms hover two to 12 meters (four to 40 feet) above ground” opens June 5 out at Saprae Creek.
Tickets still available for the Class of 2015 Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame dinner June 18 with inductees Chuck Knight, builder; Nolan Pratt, hockey; Colin Muprhy, hockey and Sonja Blanchard (Frank), running/triathlon. The guest speaker is Jim Ralph. Tickets are $100 per person available by calling 780-791-4990.
Yeehaw. Tour North Rodeo take place June 6-7 out on Highway 69 as you head to the airport. Bareback riding, barrel racing, team roping, saddle bronc and something I and former mayor and MLA Guy Boutilier tried once, only once, bull riding.
Northern Lights Triathlon takes place June 14 at Anzac Beach boat launch with a 750 metre swim in Gregoire Lake (Willow Lake for the government types) followed by a 20 km bike ride and 5 km run around Anzac. For info contact email@example.com.
Finally, goodbye to one of the leaders of Manitoba amateur sports who led the way for 65 years, opening doors to countless athletes and coaches in a multitude of sports, as my father George Henderson Phillips, 86, passed away May 29.
Catch you on the rebound