It’s opening night for Brandon University’s new Healthy Living Centre and Brandonite Kellie Baker can’t wait to be a part of history.
“We are pretty excited because it will be our first weekend in the new facility and it’s obviously going to be a pretty hyped-up weekend,” said Baker, the starting setter for the Bobcats women’s volleyball team that will officially play the first Canada West conference match in the new $20-million, 80,000-square-foot facility tonight against the Thompson Rivers WolfPack.
“Last year, the men’s basketball team got the last game in the old gym, so we sort of felt a little bit left out, but this year we get the bigger game of playing the first game ever in the new facility,” Baker said. “So it will be pretty sweet to look back on it in a few years and say I was a part of the first game in the new building.”
The state-of-the-art complex — featuring three gymnasium floors, a walking track and a fitness facility — will debut tonight with limited seating. Only 450 of the 1,000 seats are available for opening weekend due to construction delays, but all are sold out.
As of late last week, it was still touch-and-go whether BU would actually get approval to play this weekend’s games in the new gymnasium, which certainly caused some consternation and frustration in the Bobcats athletic department, and rightly so. However, while disappointed the facility isn’t completely finished for opening night — are major construction projects like this ever completed on time? — BU athletic director Russ Paddock said the university is anxious to show off its new digs.
“We’ve been looking forward to this moment for a long time and the players especially, I think, are looking forward to playing their first game in there,” Paddock said. “It won’t be completely what we thought, but we are happy to be in there.”
Baker said the Bobcats have been focused on the task at hand this weekend, looking to improve upon their 1-1 record, but opening night has certainly been on their minds.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Baker said. “We are always talking about what we think the new bleachers will look like or what do we think the track is going to look like, just having conversations amongst ourselves about the new building. It’s definitely a daily conversation, … and it’s obviously exciting that we can finally have our home crowd in the new Healthy Living Centre.”
The Bobcat women take to the court at 6 p.m., followed by the men’s game at 7:45 p.m.
NEWS AND NOTES: While the Bobcats christen their new building, the Brandon Wheat Kings will be back at Westman Place tonight for the first time in three weeks when they face Brandonite Joel Edmundson and the Moose Jaw Warriors. Brandon’s 2-3-1-1 record on its gruelling West Coast road trip was decent in a rebuilding year when you consider some of the quality of competition — the Kamloops Blazers are the No.1-ranked team in the CHL — as well as injuries to promising rookie Richard Nejezchleb and veteran Jason Swyripa, not to mention the loss of veteran Daniel Asham after he quit the team early on in the trip. However, if the Wheat Kings (7-6-2-1) want to be anything more than just a .500 team trying to squeeze into the WHL playoffs, they need to start taking full advantage of five-game homestands like this ...
The Manitoba Senior Baseball League is making a pitch to host the Baseball Canada Senior AAA championship again in 2014. The MSBL, which hosted nationals in 2006 and 2008, has submitted a bid that will be considered at Baseball Canada’s annual meeting in Quebec this weekend. “We’re pretty hopeful,” said Reston’s Richard Lochhead, who will return as MSBL president for a second season in 2013. “Brandon’s history of hosting different events has been pretty good and we’ve hosted nationals twice, so we’re hoping we’ll be successful.” The five-team league held its annual meeting earlier this week, with Melita’s Neil Franklin joining the board of directors as vice-president, while Bill Kirkup of Souris retired after more than 40 years of service ...
The Brandon Bluefins swim club will host its annual Autumn Invitational swim meet Saturday and Sunday at the Sportsplex pool. A total of 142 competitive-level swimmers from 10 clubs around the province — including 33 Bluefins members — will take part in the event. Meanwhile, the Wheat City and Winnipeg roller derby leagues will clash Saturday (7 p.m.) in the last bout of the year — dubbed ‘Wheels of Torture’ — at CFB Shilo ...
Also on Saturday, Brandon professional mixed martial arts fighter Curtis DeMarce will help Boston Pizza give away an impressive trip for two (flights, hotels and tickets) to Montreal for UFC 154, featuring the return of Georges St-Pierre. DeMarce, who is continuing to recover from serious injuries he suffered in a traffic accident earlier this year, will make the draw at the restaurant at 5 p.m. The trip is valued at $2,000. For more information, contact manager Mike Scott at 204-725-3661.