The federal government promised Friday toprovide up to $40 millionfornew facilities at Calgary's Canada Olympic Park as part of a plan to build the country's first official Centre of Sport Excellence.

For elite athletes, the centre is intended to create a village atmosphere where they can live, train and get help from experts in one place.

The centrepiecewillbe an athletic andice skating complex with four hockey rinks and office space. It will be the home of the national women's hockey team and Hockey Canada, whose president, Bob Nicholson, says Calgarians will also benefit.

"There's going to be a lot of ice time that goes to minor hockey in this city," he told CBC News. "Calgary really needs it.

"I know the mayor is looking at building some more facilities around this city and we'd like to incorporate some more so we would have four facilities right here on COP property."

The federal money comes a month after the provincepromised $69 million in support for centre.

The Calgary Olympic Development Association will apply for building permits immediately and start construction as soon as possible. The first two rinks are expected to open in 2009.