The Keystone Centre’s roof will undergo a much-needed, "full-blown renovation," with work to begin next week.
Premier Greg Selinger announced the province will provide $2 million toward the project, matching the City of Brandon’s pledge for a total of $4 million in upgrades to the roof above the City Square and Exhibition Hall buildings.
"I did notice at the Winter Fair that they got me right under that one spot where it was leaking profusely," Selinger said. "They did a very good job of making the case for why the roof needed to be repaired and so we followed through on that this budget."
Selinger said the Keystone is one of the "key assets" for regional economic development and generates a tremendous amount of positive activity for Brandon.
"To ensure the centre can thrive for years to come, we must make infrastructure investments to maintain it as one of the leading event facilities in Western Canada," Selinger said.
The provincial funding announcement was held in the City Square building, where the indoor athletic court is located. Large portions of the ceiling were visibly damaged, with materials hanging down and duct tape in plain view.
"It’s overdue," said Neil Thomson, general manager of the Keystone Centre. "We’re excited about it because we can improve the environment for our existing tenants, the larger ones like the Winter Fair, Provincial Exhibition, (Royal Arabian Horse Show), but also give us the ability to attract some new activities as well."
Roof repair was the "No.1" priority for the board of directors.
"These portions of the Keystone are back from the 1950s and 1960s and it sells itself on what needs to be done," Thomson said.
Testing will begin on the structure on Monday, to determine what kind of loads the foundation and the steel can handle.
"Because of the age of the facility, we need to do further testing to make sure it meets certain standards," Thomson said.
The project is expected to be complete by September.
Improvements to the concourse, bathrooms and amphitheatre are near completion, which the city committed $1.1 million to in the 2013 budget.
"The amphitheatre will be up and running quite shortly ... It’s almost five years that it hasn’t been used," said Keystone board chair John Macialek, adding clients are already on board to rent out the space.