Pucks will soon drop at the Gateway Ice Centre.
After an agressive construction schedule, centre co-owner and president Danny Trombetta is preparing to welcome user groups to the soon-to-be completed 128,000 square-foot three pad facility at the corner of South Service and Fruitland Roads.
While guiding a reporter on a tour of the $25-million complex on Friday, Trombetta was awaiting the delivery of ice-making chemicals for two of the three rinks. Ice chillers were slated for activation on Saturday, with ice-making set to begin on Tuesday, March 5 for rinks one and two.
“We’re in our 10th month of construction, Trombetta said. “I don’t think a project like this has ever been put up in such a short time period.”
Interior finishing and clean-up work is still in progress. An 8,000-square-foot Five-Star Fitness and Nutrition Centre plus a Don Cherry’s Sports Grill are still a few weeks away from opening.
While he declined to provide a date for full completion, Trombetta said ice should be available this week for a list of tenants that includes Steel City Hockey, the Stoney Creek Junior B Warriors and Stoney Creek Girls Hockey Association. A figure skating group led by director Amanda Covre will also set up shop in the new complex.
Dan Caco, owner of Steel City Hockey, said the new facility will help his men’s, women’s and youth leagues expand from about 125 to 200 teams. Founded in 1995, Steel City focuses on elite skill development. While its programs have traditionally run during the summer, the Gateway centre will facilitate winter activities as well.
“The biggest plus is the year-round play,” said Caco.
Next year, the Stoney Creek Girls Hockey Association will host the Esso Cup at the Gateway Centre.
Stoney Creek Junior Sabres head coach Stacey Marnoch said the new arena will allow her team to play and practise in the same facility. The junior team currently practises at Saltfleet Arena and plays its games at Valley Park and Mohawk 4 Pad.
“For sure it’s a huge benefit for us to be able to play and practice in the same facility,” said Marnoch.
Marnoch is waiting for the offiicial completion of the facility before booking any ice time. But she remains hopeful her team can try out the new ice sometime between now and April.
Mechanical equipment is now in place, including a 2,000-amp transformer, twin 500-horsepower compressors for ice-making and two Olympia ice resurfacing machines. Trombetta plans to eventually expand the complex with a fourth ice surface, using the existing mechanical infrastructure.
The facility’s main floor lobby, reception and concession areas are still being completed, as well as handicapped accessible washrooms with showers.
Rink one includes a skybox viewing area, a professional style overhead scoreboard, 7,000 watt sound system and a glassed viewing area from Don Cherry’s Sports Grill. The stands will also be licensed, allowing fans to enjoy an alcoholic beverage while cheering on their favourite team.
Rink one has a seating capacity of 1,400 in a bowl shape around the ice. Rinks two and three will seat 400 each. Bleacher style seating will be arranged in two rows with safety glass and netting to protect fans from airborne pucks.
Infrared indirect heating will be used for climate control, with an oversized dehumidication system to reduce fog in the viewing areas.
Rink two features a rubberized wraparound running track with five sprinting lanes. A pro shop is also under construction with skate sharpening and free WiFi access.
Rink three will be the last pad to receive ice. The third rink is slightly smaller than the other two NHL-sized surfaces. It will be set up as a figure skating practice rink.
The building’s main floor includes office space for the Stoney Creek Girls Hockey Association and Steel City Hockey.
Project manager Tony Falasca said construction tradespeople have been working at a rapid pace.
“We’ve been working seven days a week, almost from the very beginning,” he said.
When the facility plans were first unveiled, Stoney Creek Girls’ Hockey Association president Brian Cleary said the arena was the key component of the group’s bid for the 2014 Esso Cup.
Built through a partnership between the Trombetta and Ferrelli families, the facility will rent ice time for $235 per hour.
According to a report presented to the city’s emergency and community services committee, the lower Stoney Creek recreation district has an ice pad deficiency of 1.3 pads, based on the city standard of one ice pad per 4,100 youth aged five to 19.
The report, presented at a Feb. 11 committee meeting, only examined city-owned facilities and did not account for the new Gateway Ice Centre.