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On Thursday, people in Moose Jaw got a look at designs for the multiplex. ((MQN Architects))

After years of sometimes acrimonious debate, ground was broken Thursday on the $35-million Moose Jaw Multiplex.

Officials put shovel to dirt and unveiled designs for the multiplex, the future home of the Western Hockey League's Moose Jaw Warriors that's projected to open in December 2010.

In addition to the 4,500-seat multi-purpose arena, the downtown facility will include an eight-sheet curling rink with a lounge and viewing area and a separate soccer and fieldhouse facility, with 6,000 square metres of playing area.

It will replace the existing Moose Jaw Civic Centre further north, a building known to locals as the Crushed Can for its sloping roof.

The new building will fit in well in Moose Jaw's downtown, according to Dean Huggins, architect with MQN Architects.

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The multiplex will be home to the Warriors, Moose Jaw's beloved Western Hockey League team. ((MQN Architects))

"This is more of a contemporary-looking building although we are very sensitive to the historical nature of the buildings in Moose Jaw, and we want to respect that using some of the existing brick look that you see predominantly all over Moose Jaw, which we quite like," he said.

Parking has becoming the biggest challenge in designing the building, Huggins said.

The site doesn't allow for a large parking area, but planners and city officials said they hope to have that worked out within the next few weeks.

The City of Moose Jaw, plus provincial and federal governments are paying for the building.

Controversy has followed the project for several years. Some residents objected for various reasons, including concerns about the location and the escalating costs.

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The new multiplex will replace the existing Moose Jaw Civic Centre, known affectionately by locals as the Crushed Can. ((CBC))

Moose Jaw residents authorized tax-dollar funding for the multiplex in two referendums.