By Sue Botos
After about 18 months of planning, work is scheduled to begin this week on the new hockey locker room addition to the Hamilton Ice Arena.
“This embodied a true partnership,” Councilman at Large Brian Sindelar stated at last week’s City Council legislative session, referring to the cooperation between the city, the school district and a group of hockey backers to make the idea a reality.
At its last meeting before the August recess, council put the final piece in place to start the project by entering into an agreement with M. Downing Construction for the $302,430 addition to the north side of the rink. Parks and recreation Director Chris Mehling stated the city’s portion of the work amounts to $85,000, which will be paid out of a dedicated fund. The schools will contribute $125,000 and the hockey backers have raised about $100,000.
The momentum for the locker room renovation began over a year ago, when hockey parents noted the facilities at the ice rink, which were more than 25 years old, fell far short of the new, state-of-the-art athletic wing recently completed at the high school.
They approached the school board with the idea of a partnership, but since the ice rink is owned by the city, additional details had to be worked out. What resulted was a 43- by 38-foot structure that will have its own entrance and direct access to the parking lot between the recreation center and the arena. According to plans presented to the school board by architect Chuck McGettrick, there will be a “wall of fame” depicting great Pirate hockey moments, 22 varsity and two coaches’ lockers, offices for the coach and assistants and improved shower rooms.
Sindelar, council’s sponsor for the legislation, noted the relative ease of the groups working together as shown by the reaction when an initial design had come in over budget. “We all went back to the drawing board, and cut some things back,” he stated.
“It was an absolute pleasure to work with the hockey backers. Once we have the spade in the ground it will be a great thing,” said Mehling said. He especially thanked parents David Kysela and David and Julie Mallet, who spearheaded the hockey backers’ efforts and were on hand for passage of the legislation.
Mehling also noted that selling of advertising, mostly by the hockey backers, has not only contributed to the building fund, but may help support future recreation programs. He told West Life that Amware, a well-known business distribution service, has bought center ice space for three years at a cost of $4,500 annually. He said dasher board ads have been purchased by local Realtors, Burntwood Tavern and Buffalo Wild Wings, which has also “wrapped” the Zamboni. The cost of these ads vary by size, and are available for one-, two- and three-year commitments.
The first year of revenue from the dasher boards and center ice will go toward paying off debt for the locker room project, according to Mehling. Once this is accomplished, he said funds generated will go toward support of other recreation department programs. He said that the hockey team will have exclusive use of the new locker rooms during hockey season, but participants in other events such as the biannual ice show and youth tournaments will also have access.
“This is not only about the building and what it will mean, but it will be sustainable,” Mayor Pam Bobst commented.
Mehling said the locker rooms are hoped to be completed in time for the Pirates’ annual Thanksgiving hockey tournament at the end of November.