Cold and Nice
MANISTIQUE – The Little Bear West Arena has received an upgrade, but you’ll have to venture inside the now-brisk facility to see it. New hockey boards and glass were recently installed around the ice rink, giving the area a much-needed facelift just in time for skating season.
According to Manistique Recreation Director Bill Pohlman, the city, along with the Manistique Hockey Association, has been working for years to replace the aging hockey boards – which were nearing 40 years of use.
“It was coming to a point when they were just about a hazard,” he said. “The hockey association meets before the hockey season begins and tries to bid on tournaments and stuff, and I think we lost out on a few because of the condition of our boards.”
The old boards, originally used by professional hockey team the St. Louis Blues, were crooked and cut off corners, Pohlman explained.
“It wasn’t like a regular-sized rink,” he said.
Using a loan, along with many local contributors, brand new boards were finally secured this year, and the board company, as well as members of the hockey association, recently spent a full week installing them.
“We’re hoping now that we can start getting some tournaments in – bring more people into town,” Pohlman said. “It changes the whole arena.”
Logos were painted on the ice last week, Pohlman said, and more ice will be layered on this week in anticipation for the many upcoming skating programs, as well as the start of hockey season.
Eric Oas, president of the MHA, said the boards cost around $110,000, including the new glass on top.
“Our old glass was Plexiglas, which got marked up and was hard to see through,” he said.
The new glass is “crystal clear”, he added, making for a much better skating experience for all.
The city, which secured the loan for the boards, will be using money previously allocated to the Central Park project to make the payments, Oas said. The last payment on that project has been allocated.
In addition, the MHA hopes to draw in more local businesses and organizations to advertise in the arena, in order to speed up the payoff of the boards. Oas added that the prospect of more tournaments at the arena may help bring in advertising dollars.
“We had run into a problem with the Michigan Hockey Association about the condition of our old boards,” he said. “It kind of kept us from getting some tournaments – we hope that will change now.”
Open skating begins Friday and will run each Friday and Saturday from 6-9 p.m. and Sundays from 5-8 p.m.
“Sticks-n-Pucks” will take place Wednesdays from 3:30-5 p.m. Admission to both programs are $3, unless residents are part of the pre-paid programs through Hiawatha Township, Inwood Township, Manistique Township, Doyle Township, Thompson Township, and Limestone Federal Credit Union.
A “Learn to Skate” program will take place over the course of six weeks, beginning Nov. 5. The class is for ages four and up and costs $50. Emerald Elementary students in grades third, fourth and fifth can participate in “Emerald Skate” each Monday until Feb. 17 beginning Dec. 2.
For more information on the new hockey boards or the skate programs offered at Little Bear West Arena, contact Bill Pohlman at 341-2290 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the MHA, visit manistiquehockey.com.