Committee members who decided how to spend $100,000 to upgrade Memorial Arena in Chatham showcased the results recently.
The upgrades – courtesy of a second place finish in Kraft Hockeyville in 2015, include a hands-free main entrance, a bright LED sign out front, and better heating in the spectator area.
Bennett said the entranceway generates the most feedback from the public. Hockey players and figure skaters can haul their gear and not worry about having to pull open a heavy door and then drag their bags around it. Plus, the doors improve accessibility for the disabled.
“The doors are something we’re really excited about. They make the arena more accessible,” he said. “And the people love it.”
The heating improvements are in the south end of the rink, he added, where four more heaters were added.
Dennis Parker, committee member, hopes the improvements convince another 17 people to take notice – members of Chatham-Kent council.
“Maybe the city will want to put a little more money into the arena now,” he said.
Parker added the Memorial Arena is in need of improved plumbing, paint, and improvements in the dressing rooms in regard to gender.
“There is still life in this building. I feel this building could stand for another 100 years,” he said of the structure, which was built in the late 1940s. “We need the support of our community.”
Committee member Rebecca Reimer said the Hockeyville improvements have breathed life into a venerable facility.
“We hope everyone will get excited about the arena again,” she said.
If the municipality opts to replace Memorial Arena, the improvements can become mobile. Bennett said they are all transferable.
The committee also includes Maroons superfan Chad Peterson – a driving force behind the Hockeyville effort locally – as well as Mark Phelan and Rick Walker. Reimer said Phelan got it all going.
“He was definitely an unsung hero. He was a driving force behind it as well,” she said. “He believed in Chad and got the rest of us on the committee.”