Saskatoon’s new arena is already being put to the test.
While workers put the finishing touches on Merlis Belsher Place, the peewee double-A Titans were the first minor hockey team in the city to christen the new ice Tuesday morning.
“It’s pretty great,” said 12-year-old goaltender Evan Baum.
“It’s a lot warmer than the old rinks. It’s nice to practice in.”
Normally motivation is low for an early morning practice, but coach Greg Clark noticed a bit more jump from his players.
— Brent Bosker (@brentbosker) October 2, 2018
“The boys were excited for the last couple weeks. Getting them up at 5:30 a.m. isn’t always an easy task, but they were energized to come out here,” Clark said after practice.
The $41 million facility will serve as the new home for the U of S Huskie’s hockey programs. It’s also the first new arena to open in the city in over two decades.
It’s a big deal for Clark who said it will save his team from having to travel 30 minutes or more for ice time.
“From a family perspective that’s another hour to an hour-and-a-half on your evening of driving kids to sports,” Clark said.
The facility will dedicate 1,500 hours of ice time to minor hockey each year.
“It provides us more options for ice which is always needed,” said Kelly Boes, executive director for the Saskatoon Minor Hockey Association (SMHA)
“We’ve been able to adjust our programming up slightly this year,” Boes said, referring to the practices and games added to each league.
The SMHA agreed to contribute $250,000 toward the facility. To cover the cost, a one-time $25 fee was added to players’ registrations this year.
Boes said parents were provided with a coupon book which they could sell to cover the cost of the increase.
“We thought it was a small way of all parents contributing to a brand-new facility, rather than hitting them with a hard cash increase.”