The "civic centre", as it is commonly called, was built in 1989-1990 and opened in the fall of 1990 as the principal venue for the 1991 Canada Winter Games which Prince Edward Island hosted in February, 1991.
The facility's location was the subject of significant controversy during its planning stages as various sites were being considered within the City of Charlottetown and surrounding communities; Charlottetown having argued that as host city for the games, the facility should be located on land within its boundaries. It was eventually decided by the games organizing committee and the federal and provincial governments to build the arena as part of a larger redevelopment of the Provincial Exhibition grounds in the neighbouring Town of Parkdale (which amalgamated into Charlottetown in 1996).
The 3,200 seat capacity arena was to be built on the southern side of the Charlottetown Driving Park (a harness racing track) and adjoining Kennedy Coliseum (an agricultural show facility), which would be renovated into a multi-use exhibition hall. Following construction there were many complaints from patrons and tenants of the arena, citing wasted space and the lack of seating down to the boards.
Following the 1991 Canada Winter Games, the civic centre and its arena became the responsibility of the City of Charlottetown (despite being located outside city limits until municipal amalgamation in 1996). In 2003 following extended complaints from patrons and tenants, the arena's seating was redesigned and expanded with additional seating placed down to the glass in several locations, as well as "luxury boxes" or sky boxes. The current capacity of the arena is 3,718 (3,690 seated).
From 1990 to 2003 the Civic Centre was also home to the Charlottetown Abbies of the Maritime Junior A Hockey League, as well as the University of Prince Edward Island "Panthers" men's hockey team of the Atlantic Universities Athletic Association (now Atlantic University Sport). Both of these teams were former tenants of the Charlottetown Forum, a facility which was closed following the civic centre's opening in 1990. Both teams moved in the fall of 2003 to the newly built MacLauchlan Arena on the University of Prince Edward Island campus.