Summerside, P.E.I.,'s Eastlink Arena is getting a facelift, with new state of the art glass and rink boards that will be make for an easier transition when hosting non-hockey events and with more "give" in the glass, to protect hockey players from injury.
"The glass had reached the end of its lifespan, Credit Union Place is turning ten this year," explained J.P. Desrosiers, Summerside's community services director.
Over the last decade, the facility has hosted concerts, curling competitions, the Harlem Globetrotters as well as community events.
"That volume of conversions has increased over the years and that has also added some strain to a glass system that, quite frankly, really wasn't designed to be removed quite that often."
The current system at Credit Union Place is tempered glass, which is seen in most Island rinks, but the new glass will be an acrylic design.
"It has proven to be much safer from a hockey perspective due to the design of the glass being more forgiving," said Desrosiers.
"The board system and the glass system are designed to offer a little more give, more movement in the glass, which will provide more of a cushion for those players who are hitting the glass at a higher speed, preventing head injuries."
Desrosiers says the acrylic glass is currently installed in 28 of 30 NHL rinks, for safety reasons.
"That's certainly a priority for us so why not when we're going through the process find the safest possible glass," he said.
The new glass and board system will also cut down the time to make the transition from hockey rink to special events space because it will take substantially less labour and equipment.
The current system is made up of nine foot sections of seamless glass that need a forklift, suction cups and a crew of four to move. Desrosiers said the transition typically takes six hours, and three forklift crews.
Desrosiers hopes the new glass and boards will take just two staff and a couple of hours to move.
Only one company bid on the tender, and it came in $23,000 over what was budgeted for the project, but Desrosiers is confident he can find the cash.
"We're working towards finding those dollars within our existing capital for the department," said Desrosiers, of the $248,200 price tag.
"It's an important piece of infrastructure for our department, it's certainly something that was a priority for us to do."
The first step, said Desrosiers, is the removal of the existing glass and boards over next month. Then, there will be a break while the facility is busy with trade shows and concerts.
Two weeks in early July have been blocked off for the installation, and if all goes as planned, the ice will be back in place by August for a hockey camp and the junior team.
The current board and glass system will be recycled. Desrosiers said he's waiting for a quote, and then that will come off the purchase price.
And the boards and glass may not be going far. According to Desrosiers, there is another Island arena that has already shown interest in purchasing them.
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