FALMOUTH, Maine — The puck drops Oct. 23 for the new pavilion-style hockey rink on Hat Trick Drive.
Casco Bay Arena, the open-air rink adjacent to Family Ice Center behind Wal-Mart, will have a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday, Oct. 23, at 5:30 p.m.
John Veilleux, president of the nonprofit Casco Bay Hockey Association, said there will be a featured game between two CBHA youth teams immediately after the ribbon cutting, followed by open skating.
“Every Casco Bay Hockey team will be in the rink that first weekend,” Veilleux said.
Work on the rink began in August 2014 and, after a weather-related pause, continued last spring. Veilleux said other than a few punch-list items, the rink is done.
“The rink is literally ready to be chilled,” he said.
Tom Marjerison, president of Casco Bay Arena, on Tuesday said the rink will be filled and chilled later this week, which should allow enough time before the arena opens “to make sure everything is perfect.”
A two-story, heated viewing area is nearly finished, too. The walls still need to be painted and a staircase needs to be installed, and benches will be installed in the coming weeks.
A majority of the boards, glass and fences have gone up, and wind mesh to keep out snow and debris will soon be put in place.
“We’re pretty much ready to rock ‘n’ roll,” Veilleux said.
Marjerison said the rink will be the first net-zero energy arena in the state, employing a solar panel array.
The $2 million rink was built to provide more affordable ice time for youth and nonprofit hockey programs, as well as more unstructured ice time, Veilleux said. He said the ice time was important for junior varsity skaters, because it’s difficult to schedule ice time for those players after the hockey season is underway.
“It makes nonprofit hockey viable,” he said.
Marjerison said youth sports have “become a commodity,” and organizers believe the sport should be purer and not about adults making money off children’s sports.
“We’re trying to give opportunities to as many kids as possible,” Marjerison said.
The rink will be open all four seasons, but will only accommodate hockey from October through March. During the other months it will be used for sports such as futsal – a modified form of soccer – and indoor lacrosse, on artificial turf. In addition to CBHA players, other tenants will include school teams, other nonprofit youth leagues, along with supervised, unstructured ice time.
“We really are trying to have part of our time be unstructured for kids to come out and shoot around,” Veilleux said.
Veilleux and Marjerison said the rink is fully funded.
In August, there remained a fundraising need of about $75,000 to complete the warming area, but Marjerison said two anonymous families “paid $70,000 into escrow against future fundraising to ensure we could complete construction.”
“We have ongoing fundraising to pay back that escrowed amount,” Marjerison said.
CBHA is a Portland-based youth hockey organization with more than 800 players and 150 volunteer coaches.