KAMLOOPS — The City and TRU are in very early discussions about a dome over Hillside Stadium. An intriguing possibility. It would certainly be a big boost to the Tournament Capital idea, and allow sports of many varieties to take place all year long. I expect it would be a pretty expensive project, but if the circumstances were right, and funding were available from senior levels of government and not only TRU and the City, it might be worth discussing more.
But I fear in getting hooked on this major project, we are forgetting that we really need to do more to balance out activities in Kamloops. Voters turned down a high-cost Performing Arts Centre and Parking lot proposal for the old Kamloops Daily News building. I don’t think we know for sure if they were just against the huge costs, or whether they didn’t want a performing arts centre. The balance in this City is hugely tilted in favour of sports, and we really don’t have a very good balance between sports and arts in Kamloops. I really think before we start thinking about a dome over Hillside, we should look at ways of partnering with other groups to build a new arts centre. Something perhaps a little larger than Sagebrush so top quality acts don’t have to go to a chopped-down Sandman Centre, or a little smaller facility that would be cosier than the Sagebrush for smaller, more intimate performances. Either way, this project should be a higher priority than the dome for now.
If TRU is looking for a new project, maybe they should work on their own theatre space. I’m sure the people in the theatre department would love something better than the old theatre in the Clocktower Building.
I want to make it clear I am not against the idea of the dome. But given the way the balance sits between sports and other projects that deal with things like the arts, sports is getting far too much attention. The City is already going to have to spend a good chunk of money turning the old McArthur Island golf site into something more useable, and a dome should be put on the backburner. Let’s work on getting a better balance so that more than one group of people is happy. Kamloops needs to be more than the Tournament Capital if it wants to move the bar upwards in terms of attracting a new group of people to the City.
New professionals who want to come to Kamloops to a new hospital, or heart unit or ICU, want more than just a slo-pitch field. They want a cultural diversity that is a little thin in Kamloops right at the moment. Balance needs to be restored, and a performing arts centre would go a long way to making that happen.