New arena, new name: Hay River's Don Stewart Arena naming rights up for grabs

Competition at the Arctic Winter Games is already underway — but not for medals

Hay River's Don Stewart Arena is being replaced in more ways than one.

The new $21-million building under construction will probably also bear a new name, according to the town's mayor, Brad Mapes.

"When we were looking at trying to finance the building in Hay River it was always a topic of how we can afford it," says Mapes. 

"We did have a number of about $1.5 million that we were looking at fundraising, and the naming of the building was one [option]."

Mapes says he has heard from several concerned community members who don't want to see the name changed — but he says in some cases they are misunderstanding the situation. The original name was not chosen by the community, but actually originated through a sponsorship.

Don Stewart was a former Hay River mayor who later became the town's MLA. According to Mapes, the Stewart family sponsored the previous building with a $100,000 price reduction as its company, Igloo Building Supplies, built the pool.

Mapes says that agreement, about 13 years ago, did not include a specific timeframe for how long the name would last. 

"It's a brand new building," says Mapes. He says the Stewart family, or any other family or company, can make its own proposal for a new sponsorship arrangement. 

Mapes added that the amount of the donation will not be the only consideration; choosing a name that reflects the community's history will also be considered.

Several other rooms, such as change rooms and sitting areas, will also be up for sponsorship to help make up the $1.5-million budget gap.

Members of the Stewart family declined to comment.