Construction of the new Merlis Belsher Place has officially reached the halfway mark.
On Tuesday, members of the media were given a tour of the $42.9-million multi-sport complex that will become the home of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies hockey teams.
Guiding the tour was Lorne Wright of Wright Construction, U of S president Peter Stoicheff and major donor Merlis Belsher.
Stoicheff was pleased to see how construction is progressing for the university’s highly anticipated venue.
“It is great to note that we are now halfway through construction, so if things keep progressing as they have, it is safe to say that we are actually a little ahead of schedule,” Stoicheff said. “Merlis Belsher Place is such an important facility, not just for the university, but for our entire community.”
“This is an exciting project and we are looking forward to opening this remarkable facility in the fall.”
The complex will feature two full-size sheets of ice, two full-size basketball courts and dressing rooms for Huskie hockey, basketball and soccer teams. There will also be spaces for alumni, officials, physiotherapy services and a dozen dressing rooms for community groups and teams. Seating capacity will initially be 2,614 upon opening and will later expand to 3,546.
The new arena will help ease a shortage of available ice time in the city, with 1,500 hours devoted to Saskatoon Minor Hockey every year.
Belsher was in awe as he toured the building that will bear his name.
“I never would have imagined, when I was first approached, that it would be this kind of a facility,” said Belsher. “It’s truly a multi-purpose facility, so I am overwhelmed, actually. It’s great.”
Belsher, a local businessman and philanthropist, kicked the project off with a $12.25-million donation. The donation was the largest single contribution from an alumnus in U of S history.
Construction began in April 2017 and is expected to wrap up in the fall. Official grand opening ceremonies are slated for 2019.
Merlis Belsher Place will replace the aging Rutherford Place that was built in 1929.