Nova Scotia

Cape Breton recreation dome to be replaced

The non-profit society that runs the dome estimates a $1.4-million replacement cost.

Dome has collapsed 3 times since it opened more than a decade ago

The interior of the sports dome when it is inflated. (Brittany Wentzell/CBC)

After a decade of ups and downs, the dome of the Cape Breton Health Recreation Complex in Sydney will be replaced.

Aside from regular wear and tear, the inflatable sports dome at Cape Breton University has been damaged by harsh weather. It has collapsed three times since it opened in January 2010, including most recently in February.

The non-profit society that runs the complex considered three options for the dome: repairing it, replacing it, or building a new facility out of steel and brick.

Ken MacLean, the facility's president, said the society has opted to replace the dome, including its fabric and steel cables, at a cost of $1.4 million. That's a fraction of the $10-million estimate of constructing a brick-and-mortar building. 

"We have a lot of user groups in the dome and we get great value out of it," said MacLean. "It's definitely worth it to the community."

Rental fees help pay expenses

Although it's often referred to as the Sydney soccer dome, the complex is home to a wide variety of sports, including rugby, football, golf and Frisbee. 

To help cover the facility's expenses, several local teams and organizations pay rental fees, including anchor tenant Cape Breton University, which uses the dome for some of its varsity team practices.

Future plans for the facility may include lighting upgrades and a switch to renewable energy sources such as wind power and possibly geothermal heating.

MacLean said government funding will be sought to help cover the dome's future costs. 

Once materials are ordered and received, the construction should only take a few weeks. Plans are to have a new dome operating by early October.

In the meantime, the existing dome has been reinflated. 

With files from Information Morning Cape Breton