It seems that ice hockey and owners are two things that take some time to get along in the Valley.
The Arizona Coyotes, formerly Phoenix Coyotes, just secured new ownership last year. But even on a small scale, ownership of ice rinks struggled. The three Polar Ice facilities have been sold to new owners.
The rink in Chandler now is owned by the Ice Den and after closing in April for renovations, it reopened Monday.
Mike O’Hearn, president of Coyotes Ice, said $3 million was spent on repairs and renovations to the facility.
“Out of necessity, we are replaced all of the interior equipment, ice plant, lighting, roof work and subfloor, which had not been maintained as required for the facility to continue in use,” he said in a statement.
“New concrete floors replaced the current outmoded sand-based design, which provide flexibility allowing the venue to be utilized in summer months for indoor soccer, lacrosse, day camps and other activities that are already available at the Ice Den’s Scottsdale location.”
The project was forecast to be finished on Aug. 4; however, the contractors estimated they were several weeks behind after initially starting the work.
“During the pre-purchase inspection process, it was determined that the Chandler facility, like the other Polar Ice locations, was in severe disrepair and in need of major reconstruction to bring the facility up to safety code requirements. The ice plant and floors in particular were on the verge of an irreversible failure that would have forced closure of the facility during the high usage fall and winter skating seasons,” O’Hearn said.
In addition to the upgrades to the structure and ice, O’Hearn said a new pro shop and restaurant have also be added.
“Additionally, we will aggressively focus on rebuilding the now dormant youth hockey, skating and Learn to Skate programs at the Chandler facility, a process that is already underway.”
The facility’s new ice was broken in early Monday morning when Desert Vista Hockey Club held its first hockey practice of the season.
“It was really bad this morning,” said new coach Brad Hookam. “It was really foggy and it felt like the ice wasn’t quite right.”
Fog is a common occurrence at an ice rink when the humidity is high outside, and Hookam, who played for the Thunder for four years, said it will feel more normal over time.
“It’s not that the facility is bad, it’s just weird. It looks really high-tech now ,which is just something I haven’t seen there before.”
• Will Argeros is a junior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He is interning this semester for the AFN.