Another crossroad came and went at the community complex as the maintenance crew removed the ice off the hockey arena for the final time on the floor that has been in there for the past 40-or-so years. This will be the last time that the old floor will see ice as the demolition is well underway on the repair project that focuses on the hockey arena side. Man, if that floor could talk, what would it say? Uncountable hockey games and practices with generations of families moving through the building, first as children, then as adults watching their children. Various levels of junior hockey beginning with the Clippers to the Thunder and now the Thunder Cats, along with hundreds of thousands of supportive fans over the years.
Hockey for the average Joe? How many passed through the portals as part of some sort of organized hockey, whether it was called commercial league, beer league, men’s rec or old-timers, as well as the tales of imagination passed around in the change rooms afterwards? Figure skating has been here forever and it would be interesting how far any of the participants went in that calling. Fall fairs — I wouldn’t want to guess at the generations of chickens and rabbits that have been displayed along with bushels of barley and pecks of pectin.
That’s entertainment when you can say the arena has seen such greats as Valdy, Aaron Pritchett, Farmer’s Daughter, circuses galore, the Lipizzaner stallions and Tom Jones (yes, that Tom Jones). That’s just what comes to mind — I know there have been lots of others. When I started, they were still doing cabarets on the arena floor which tended to turn into mixed martial arts matches and the arena floor had the consistency of flypaper the next day from all the spilled drinks — another era gone by. Graduation was another sell-out event that comes to mind that packed them to the rafters and will most likely continue in future years once we complete the upgrade. Trade shows also brought the crowds in over the past decade or two as various different organizations staged that popular event.
Over the summer we will see a new, efficient floor and board system go in along with a rehash in the arena lobby to better serve the public with improved washrooms and a bit more multipurpose space as well as upgraded concession. To answer a popular question, no, the bleachers stay albeit with a modification to the lower level to eliminate that yellow block of wood that sat on the floor at the end of every stair section which, as an employee that has tripped over it in the dark as I walked back to the shop, won’t miss one bit. Just think of it as preservation of a bit of history as you bring your cushion to the hockey games.
Neil Ostafichuk is the recreation supervisor at the Creston and District Community Complex.