Concordia’s Renovated Rink Reopens
One year, over $6 million and two weeks of home-games-away-from-home later, Concordia’s Ed Meagher Arena is finally renovated and looking spiffier than ever.
Named after the late Loyola-alum Edmund Richard Meagher in 2000, the arena has been home to the Concordia men’s and women’s hockey teams since 1967 and has housed various hockey tournaments hosted by neighbouring Loyola High School.
The renovations for the arena, which hosted its first game last Friday when the men’s team lost 6-4 to the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, weren’t cheap at the cost of $6.5 million in a deal struck in July 2012 between the provincial government and Concordia—but they were well worth it if you ask the players.
“Although we are still working out some kinks, the improvements are huge,” said Stingers’ women’s hockey captain Erin Lally, who missed out on the team’s first game in the new arena—a 4-1 loss to the University of Ottawa Sunday afternoon—due an injury. “The boards have better bounce, the higher glass and the ice is much firmer, which makes for a faster surface.”
The arena is the latest accomplishment in the university’s athletics department’s campaign to improve facility development, on a list that includes the inauguration of the university’s outdoor turf fields in 2003, the fitness centre Le Gym in 2005, the Stinger Dome in 2009 and the PERFORM Centre in 2010.
“Throughout my five years with the Stingers I have been fortunate enough to see the huge transformations that have gone on at the athletic complex, PERFORM centre and now the arena renovations,” said Lally. “I feel very grateful that I have been able to be a part of all this growth within Concordia athletics.”
One of the first things you’ll notice when walking in the renovated arena is the new paint. The old maroon painted seats got a sleek makeover with black and yellow colour at both ends, with maroon covering the middle seating. There’s also netting that covers the majority of the ice except for at the players’ benches.
The benches also have a new separation between them and the rest of the stands that will be used as a walkthrough for fans and late arrivals—something Lally approves of.
“One of my favourite changes is the separation of the players’ benches and the stands,” she said. “It helps create a bubble around us while we are playing, therefore we can maintain a better focus.”
The ice itself is a new surface, which is now more environmentally friendly as it uses a carbon-dioxide refrigeration system instead of the old ammonia-based system used before.
“We have a great new ice surface, everybody likes it,” said Marvin Cooper, manager of facilities planning and development for the Stingers. “It’s very eco-friendly—it’s hard, cold and freezes very well.”
Noticeable changes can also be found at the south end of the arena. The zamboni door, which used to be underneath the entrance, has been pushed to the south end.
The extra space towards the north end as a result allowed for major renovations to the dressing rooms. They’re now bigger and allow more room for players to move around, shower and provide more personal space for each athlete.
“Our dressing room is spectacular,” said Stingers winger Jaymee Shell. “The new arena itself is great for the team and to recruit future players.”
“We finally have a space that is comparable to the men’s,” added Lally. “This is a great reflection of the women’s program at Concordia and women’s hockey as a whole.”
The arena’s reopening is particularly welcomed by the hockey teams’ coaches, who are now back to their usual routine.
“We’ve been on the ice since Monday, and it felt good to come back here and practice,” said Kevin Figsby, head coach of the men’s team. “We’re thoroughly pleased to be back home.”
Figsby’s team had hit the road for its first four regular season games before playing its first two home games at the Verdun Auditorium.
Les Lawton’s women’s squad, meanwhile, had shuffled all around at the beginning of the season, playing four games in four different arenas—two in Ottawa and two in Quebec, where the Stingers took to the ice at the TMR Arena and the Centre Multisports de Châteauguay, respectively, for their first two home games.
“It took a while, but it’s really nice to play at your home rink,” said Stingers veteran centre Alyssa Sherrard. “It’s definitely nice not to have to travel around so much.”
The arena is still smoothing out its kinks, however. Notably, a mechanical problem kept the zamboni door from closing last Saturday, delaying that afternoon’s men’s game for an hour and a half.
Final touches aside, the athletics department is pleased to finally open the arena’s doors to the public.
“I’m always excited and proud of what we’re able to accomplish,” said Cooper. “It’s always a great feeling to give the student and the athletes a newer, better facility anytime you can.”
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