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Shell Place: Four Years From Ground Breaking

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Just four short years ago, an official groundbreaking celebrated the beginning of a new era in sport, entertainment and event experiences in the Wood Buffalo region. After a series of community engagement sessions and surveys, the MacDonald Island Park Expansion Project, or MIPEX, got under way in 2012 – and four years later MIPEX, now known as Shell Place, has changed both MacDonald Island Park and Fort McMurray forever.

Shell Place added several exciting amenities to the already strong facilities located at MacDonald Island Park. SMS Equipment Stadium, the outdoor performance stadium situated along the Snye, has now played host to two CFL games, an Aerosmith concert, the Monster X Tour, Nitro Circus and most recently the legendary John Fogerty live in concert. In addition, it has become the home of the Fort McMurray Monarchs Football Club, the local team that in fall of 2016 captured the hearts of a community when they finished their season in their home stadium as national champions. The Baseball Stadium at Shell Place is now home to the Fort McMurray Giants, who brought exciting baseball action to fans all summer long, and in August the stadium played host to the 2016 Baseball Canada Cup, an event which brought ten teams of the top under-17 baseball athletes to Fort McMurray to compete in a prestigious annual tournament.

The Indoor Turf Field House and Badminton Centre at Shell Place have become community favourites, and, along with the fresh and contemporary new High Performance Training Centre, help to round out the sport and recreation offerings available at MacDonald Island Park.

Shell Place is more than a hub of sport and recreation, with a full conference, meeting, banquet and hospitality component including the multi-functional Grand Ballroom space. In addition, the Redpoll Centre, operated by anchor tenant the United Way of Fort McMurray, has provided a new home for local social profit organizations and opportunities to collaborate.

“On June 15, 2016, we celebrated the one-year anniversary of the official opening of Shell Place,” says Annette Antoniak, Chief Executive Officer of the Regional Recreation Corporation of Wood Buffalo (RRC), operators of MacDonald Island Park. “Four years ago the ground-breaking began the journey to where we are today: a facility that has allowed the residents of our region to enjoy new experiences and opportunities.”

In addition to serving the needs of local residents, Shell Place provides new opportunities for the exploration of provincial and national sport tourism, conferences and meetings, with the potential to generate significant spin-off revenue beneficial for the local economy and further bolstering the benefits to the region.

“Shell Place was designed and built to meet the needs expressed by the community, but it also has the potential to attract trade shows, conferences, and meetings that will help to put Fort McMurray on the map for those looking for fantastic venues and communities to hold such events,” says Antoniak. “It allows for exploration of new economic development and a new revenue stream for our region.”

Locals often refer to MacDonald Island Park as the “heart of the community”, a second home for the residents of this region and the place where they come to enjoy their leisure time. Four years ago that heart began to grow a little bit larger with the ground-breaking of Shell Place, the now established home of excellence in sport, entertainment and event experiences in the region.


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.