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Shell Place Comes to Life

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Shell Place Officially Opens to the Community of Wood Buffalo

Armed with scissors and smiles, over two thousand community members, including students from eleven local schools, celebrated the official opening of Shell Place at MacDonald Island Park in Fort McMurray on June 12.

Shell Place, the expansion project at MacDonald Island Park, includes the SMS Equipment Stadium (sport and performance stadium), the Redpoll Centre (social profit shared space operated by anchor tenant the United Way of Fort McMurray), a baseball stadium, the Grand Ballroom and Diamond Ballroom, a variety of flexible meeting and conference space, an indoor turf field house and a badminton centre, among other amenities. The project broke ground in fall of 2012 with the first piece of steel laid in the field house in April, 2013. Sport and recreation user groups and community members began to use the facility in early 2015, with the official grand opening celebrated on June 12.

“Shell Place was designed in collaboration with the community it now serves,” said Annette Antoniak, Chief Executive Officer of the Regional Recreation Corporation of Wood Buffalo (RRC). “Through a series of community engagement sessions and opportunities to provide direction, the community had the ability to guide the design of the facility we were so excited to open to the region this spring.”

The official opening ceremonies included an Official Guinness World Record Attempt for ‘most participants in a ribbon cutting’, and while a new record was not achieved the community celebrated the grand opening with numerous local dignitaries, facility partners and special guests, including Chef Michael Smith.

“The grand opening of Shell Place was the culmination of years of planning and work, but just the beginning of the next phase for MacDonald Island Park,” said Antoniak. “The very next day the region came together once again, but this time to enjoy the furthest north game in Canadian Football League history at the Northern Kickoff presented by Shell.”

On June 13, 11.825 residents of the region and visitors from out of town gathered in the new SMS Equipment Stadium at Shell Place to participate in the long-anticipated Northern Kickoff presented by Shell. This exhibition game featuring the Edmonton Eskimos vs. the Saskatchewan Roughriders was announced on June 13, 2013, and came to life through an organizing committee comprised of representatives of the RRC, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, partners and stakeholders and dozens of community members. With the assistance of hundreds of volunteers, the game on June 13 delighted fans of the Eskimos, the Roughriders and the CFL and the thousands of community members who simply attended to enjoy the experience of a new stadium.

With several events scheduled over the summer months including the first regular season CFL game in Wood Buffalo history on June 27, the Alberta-exclusive Aerosmith concert on July 19, two FC Edmonton professional soccer games in July and August and several events associated with the 2015 Western Canada Summer Games, Shell Place is poised to become the new home of sport, recreation and event excellence in the Wood Buffalo region.

“On June 12 we celebrated the grand opening of Shell Place, and on June 13 we welcomed thousands of people to the Northern Kickoff presented by Shell,” said Antoniak. “These events, as well as the coming events this summer, provide not only a wonderful opportunity to showcase our facilities at MacDonald Island Park but also the strength of our community and our beautiful region. We are truly grateful for the guidance and vision of Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Mayor and Council in the development of Shell Place and the support of our many partners and our community as Shell Place comes to life to serve the people of this region for decades to come and welcomes new opportunities and possibilities to Fort McMurray.” 


A freelance writer, blogger and professional communicator who is passionate about her child, her work, her pets, her community and the power of words, Theresa Wells believes perfection in life is achieved when she is surrounded by amazing people, fantastic stories, cold gin and really hot shoes.