The new arena under construction here received plenty of praise as town councillors, “Ice for Kids” members, and the media went on the first tour of the facility Friday afternoon.
Sporting an NHL-sized ice surface, 993 seats, an expansive lobby, and change rooms at least twice the size of the ones inside Memorial Arena, the building made quite an impression.
“This is just so phenomenal,” said Felix Blasky, chairman of the Border Figure Skating Club.
That was the reaction of most of those on the tour as they were led through all the arena’s rooms and hallways by Community Service manager George Bell and project manager Brian Avis.
“It’s an excellent arena, a first-class facility. Bigger is better. From the practical standpoint, it lacks nothing,” said “Ice for Kids” co-chair Les Baker.
The walls are up, the roof is on, and the building is 70 percent complete, Avis noted.
“I don’t see why we should have any hold-ups between now and the end,” he added.
Just inside Memorial Arena is a cheque from the OPP to “Ice for Kids” dated 1993—a testament to how long this project has been in the making.
“It is from way back when we had meeting after meeting after meeting. What they see now is the product of all that,” said Avis.
Those on the tour commended the work of all the committees that helped plan and raise funds for the new arena.
“It all started back about eight years ago when ‘Ice for Kids’ pushed us to get a [second] arena. They’re to be applauded for not giving up,” said Mayor Glenn Witherspoon.
But everyone also acknowledged it’s been a struggle at times.
“As nice as these people are, I think we’re getting tired of each other,” said Avis.
Everyone agreed the building looks a lot more spacious on the inside than it does from outside.
Besides the first impression the rink area made, the four large change rooms, referees’ change room, skate-sharpening shop, first-aid room, canteen, and plenty of storage space made the tour a very impressive one.
“This is better than Thunder Bay’s,” said BFSC board member Tammi Deamicis.
After the tour, Avis pointed out the colours of the rubber carpeting, paint, and vinyl that will line the building’s interior. The rink is not only very big but will be very brightly coloured.
“The difference between this and the [Calgary] Saddledome is the number of seats,” said Avis.