While it’s still a ways from completion, the sight of the new arena taking shape in Rankin Inlet has the community excited over the arrival of the long-awaited multi-purpose facility.
Rankin recreation co-ordinator David Clark points out, however, that the skeleton of the building will be the quickest to go up.
He said work on the inside of the structure will be the more time-consuming part of its construction by a wide margin.
“It’s a stand-alone rink with a lobby and beautiful canteen/kitchen, and, although it’s not a huge building, I’m hoping it will do justice to our community and be a great place for people to enjoy the game of hockey and other events throughout the year,” said Clark. “It’s going to be a 12-month facility in terms of usage, and I can share its basic schedule with Kivalliq News now.”
“Hockey will be from October until the middle of April, we’ll use the ice-surface area for big events during Pakallak Tyme in the spring, and, starting in June, indoor turf will be put down for soccer, flag football, maybe some lacrosse, and other fun types of things until sometime in August, and then we’ll take the turf out to have the facility ready for the Kivalliq Trade Show and then starting making ice again,” he said.
Because the building has a concrete floor, the community will be able to hold numerous special events during the time of year when the ice is out, said Clark.
One of the community’s main concerns with the new arena is that its seating capacity is large enough to handle the huge crowds that come out for Rankin’s biggest annual hockey tournaments, such as the Polar Bear Plate and the Terence Tootoo Memorial.
A large number of fans have been turned away from sold-out games during the past few years, including those who travelled in from other communities to watch the tournaments.
Clark said the most recent information he was given has the arena’s capacity set at 900 inside the rink itself, and another 100, or so, in the lobby.
He said that still has to be approved by the Office of the Fire Marshal, but it’s the number they’re shooting for.
“I think that’s fair and will do the job during our bigger tournaments. I wanted a little bit more, but it’s going to be a new building the hamlet and the community can take pride in,” said Clark. “It’s going to really benefit our community, not only as a hockey facility but as a complete recreation facility throughout the whole year.”
The initial schedule for its opening is January of 2019, but Clark’s guess is that the community will have one more hockey season their our old barn before they finally get to start fresh their new arena.
Clark said he’s working with the recreation committee and hamlet council on different ideas for use of the old arena once the new one is operational.
He said time is running out and he wants to be able to utilize the old building as soon as it becomes available.
“We need to come up with a solid plan for the old building and find the money needed for that plan to further benefit our community,” he said. “The hamlet’s not going to have two rinks operating at the same time. That decision has already been made. I’d like to take the boards and plexiglass out of the old building and build a new outdoor rink near the new arena.”
“We also need to look at finding the money to come up with drawings on, possibly, expanding our existing community hall in the old building and see if it would be worth the effort,” he continued.