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Providence Pilots to Play Home Games at Niverville CRRC

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Pilots Agreement Crop
Dr. Kenton Anderson, President of Providence University, and Niverville Mayor Myron Dyck announce a partnership agreement for use of the CRRC fieldhouse. Evan Braun

The Town of Niverville has entered into a partnership agreement with Providence University to allow their athletics department regular use of the fieldhouse at the Community Resource and Recreation Centre.

Although training will continue to happen on campus in Otterburne, the Providence Pilots volleyball, basketball, and futsal (indoor soccer) teams will play their games in Niverville starting this upcoming fall.

“Otterburne isn’t that far away and we’re only separated by a few miles,” says Niverville Mayor Myron Dyck. “I believe that this just further strengthens our region and lets people in our province, and those beyond our provincial borders, know about this region and what is going on here… We’re very excited about this.”

Dr. Kenton Anderson, President of Providence University, was on hand for the announcement.

“I’m grateful to my team that has worked so diligently alongside your team, Mr. Mayor, to work out the details,” says Dr. Anderson, who just began his term as president a few weeks ago on June 1. “This is going to be great for our teams. It’s a cost-effective solution for us at Providence. Also, and I’m new to this, but what I’ve been hearing about Niverville is pretty exciting. This is a progressive community—you’re looking to the future and looking for opportunities to grow and prosper and allow the people of the town to flourish. We just want to be part of that. We’re close neighbours, and we’re friends, and we’re going to work together. I’m honoured to be here, I’m excited to be here, and I’m really looking forward to coming to games here.”

The partnership agreement, which has been in the works for more than a year and will remain in effect for up to 25 years, will assist in offsetting the costs of construction and the ongoing operations of the CRRC.

Mayor Dyck says the agreement is a big win for Niverville taxpayers. He adds that the two parties worked extensively to ensure that the agreement benefited everyone in an equitable way.

“The partnership agreement gives Providence the court time and the space that they need while still also allowing residents of Niverville the time they need for what they wish to do, recreationally or competitively,” says Dyck. “Part of what we needed to do was to find out what kind of commitment they needed from the project. We wanted to work with them, but not at the expense of the residents and taxpayers that have contributed to the project. We believe that there is a very healthy balance that has been struck here.”

This sentiment was echoed by Dr. Anderson, who added that he hopes that citizens of Niverville begin to feel as though the Pilots are their own local team to come out and cheer for.

Roughly speaking, the agreement will give Providence use of the fieldhouse for approximately 20 hours per week from September to March. None of the university’s athletics programs extend beyond the academic year.

Many of these hours, Mayor Dyck clarifies, will take place during non-peak times when the CRRC might otherwise not see high demand.

“When you’re talking about revenue for the facility, you ask, ‘When are people most likely going to be here?’ It’s evenings and weekends,” says Dyck. “Providence is able to also utilize non-demand hours, which is key. But they will definitely have some demand for evening games and weekend games, and that will be up to our facility manager to schedule.”

Dyck adds that the town’s goal is to keep the CRRC revenue neutral, although it’s understood that there will likely be a deficit at first.

“Our goal is to be net zero, but because we’re providing an opportunity to people in the community to be able to do things that they might have to otherwise leave a community to do, there’s an intangible benefit to that.”

There is also a great deal of economic spinoff to hosting games and bringing in players, coaches, and fans from both across the region and even other parts of the country. And those economic advantages will only become sharper once the Manitoba Junior Hockey League team begins playing out of the CRRC in the fall of 2022.

So far, the demand is high for use of the facility, Dyck says.

“Yes, the demand is there,” he says. “People are coming out of the woodwork, saying, ‘Can we play there?’ We say that we want them to, but we’re trying to balance things. This was built first and foremost for the residents and people of Niverville.”

So where will the opposing teams and fans be coming from? According to Scott Masterson, Providence’s Chief Operations Officer and Athletics Director, teams will be visiting from across Canada, and even the United States.

“We are in the Manitoba Colleges Athletics Conference,” says Masterson. “And then that conference is also now a member of the Canadian Collegiate Athletics Association (CCAA), which is the national body in Canada.”

Masterson says that that CCAA will be holding its men’s volleyball national tournament in Manitoba in 2025, and the Pilots may be able to place a bid for Niverville to host it.

“One of the questions we’ve had of this facility is, would it be sufficient to put in an application to host the national championships here?” says Masterson. “We believe we can. There’s other schools that have the right to bid for Manitoba as well, but we’re hopeful that we would be able to host the national championships here in Niverville, which I think would be massive.”

In addition to Canada, the university’s teams also play in the National Christian College Athletics Association, an American league.

“We’ve been doing that for the last 20-plus years,” Masterson says. “Our soccer and basketball teams are playing in that conference, and it gives us a chance to compete against U.S. schools and earn our way to a national championship down in the U.S. as well. So now we have a U.S. and a Canadian national championship opportunity.”

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Citizen Poll

Thank you for participating in the Name Your Team initiative for Niverville's new community-owned MJHL hockey franchise, set to begin play from the CRRC Arena in the 2022-2023 season!

Those who enter will be eligible for prizes, including game-day tickets. We appreciate your entry! Note: if there is a specific meaning or reason for suggesting this name, please share it in the comments box.

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