A sta­dium sneak peek

Har­bour Grace fa­cil­ity ahead of sched­ule

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

The out­side of the new re­cre­ation fa­cil­ity in Habour Grace is get­ting the last of its cos­metic touches.

But inside, the work is only just be­gin­ning. Walls have been par­ti­tioned and wiring work is start­ing.

The bland smell of con­crete and mor­tar hangs in the air as a front-end loader molds a mound of brown dirt into the floor of what will be the rink it­self. In a cou­ple of weeks, work­ers will pour con­crete and lay pip­ing to com­plete the look.

An or­ange tarp hangs over where the ice resur­facer door and the con­crete-grey stairs of the main foyer beg for some colour.

Make no mis­take about it. The fa­cil­ity is miles ahead from where it was even three months ago.

Dur­ing a re­cent site visit by The Com­pass, ev­ery­thing was on dis­play.

The mul­ti­tude of space down­stairs and up, the des­ti­na­tion for the walk­ing track and where the dress­ing rooms will be lo­cated. Ev­ery­thing.

Har­bour Grace Mayor Terry Barnes gets ex­cited when he talks about progress the sta­dium has made in just un­der a year. Work first be­gan last July and now they’re a cou­ple of days from putting in the bleach­ers along one side of the ice sur­face.

Don’t worry though; there will be bleach­ers on both sides con­trary to a ru­mour mak­ing its way around the area.

“We’re sur­prised by the length of time it’s taken them to get this far,” said Barnes. “It took Par­adise over two years. In July, we started do­ing the ground. Then, we stopped for a lit­tle while and when they started, they started.”

The mayor at­tributes this to the milder-than-usual win­ter we’ve had in these parts. It’s hin­dered work­ers very lit­tle as they worked to erect the steel and shell of the some $20-mil­ion fa­cil­ity. Se­vere weather only came af­ter the walls were up.

Slated for an Au­gust open­ing — at the lat­est mid-Septem­ber — the new sta­dium gets big­ger the closer you get to it. Orig­i­nally, it was be­lieved the sta­dium would see its first ac­tion in 2017.

That was bumped up to Novem­ber, be­fore this lat­est es­ti­mate.

“When I tell peo­ple, they don’t be­lieve me. They don’t be­lieve she’s so close to be­ing done. Terry Barnes

“It’s un­be­liev­able. I can’t get over it. I don’t know what to say,” said Barnes. “When I tell peo­ple, they don’t be­lieve me. They don’t be­lieve she’s so close to be­ing done.”

To mo­torists pass­ing by on the ad­ja­cent Vet­eran’s Me­mo­rial High­way, the fa­cil­ity seems rather mun­dane. From there, it’s just another sta­dium. How­ever, the closer you get the more im­pres­sive it looks.

Out­side the un­usual colour scheme, the size of the build­ing re­minds you of a small­ish air­plane hangar.

Inside, your breath hitches a sec­ond when you look at where the Na­tional Hockey League-sized ice sur­face will be lo­cated. A cav­ernous space, it reaches up­wards to 30-feet in the air and is more than 100-feet across. In­clud­ing the foyer, the build­ing is more than 300-feet in length.

“The ice is go­ing to be huge,” said Barnes.

Lit barely by a flood­light some­where around where cen­tre ice will be lo­cated, the in­ner bowl aims to put the S.W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium to shame.

There’s room for a walk­ing track, which will run in a dif­fer­ent part of the build­ing and away from the sta­dium, and of­fice space for all of the in­ter­ested par­ties.

Dur­ing the visit, Barnes lists off CeeBees mi­nor hockey, the CBN Skat­ing Club and the se­nior CeeBees. That’s not to men­tion a gym and other ameni­ties.

“We’re ex­cited,” said Barnes.

NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS PHO­TOS

The new Har­bour Grace re­cre­ation fa­cil­ity should fit the needs of the re­gion.

This hall­way leads to where the dress­ing rooms will be.

A closer look at where the ice sur­face will be.

NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS PHO­TOS

The main foyer of the build­ing is still a work in progress.

One of the dozens of wa­ter con­nec­tions at the fa­cil­ity.

The bowl for the ice sur­face is NHL size.

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