Although floor plans for the new St. Catharines downtown spectator facility are only about 50% finalized, if the draft plans are any indication, the new facility will delight both hockey fans and non-hockey fans alike.
From the ground level up to the suite level, it’s obvious that a lot of planning has been put forth making sure this arena has it all, including a number of features usually reserved for larger facilities. These added amenities will allow the new St. Catharines facility to operate as a proper sports and entertainment centre.
Fans will enter the building through one of the two pedestrian bridges coming off St. Paul Street. The bridges connect to the arena at a level that is slightly higher than the suite level. Fans can then take a flight of stairs or an elevator down to the suite level or concourse level. Alternatively, fans can enter the facility through the ground level main lobby found at the front of the building and then take the stairs or elevator up to the concourse or suite level.
The suite level is arranged in a horseshoe configuration with a total of 24 suites along either side of the ice surface and four rows of club seating at the north end. The top row of club seats features bar stools in front of a counter. Behind the club seats is a lounge complete with table and chairs and a concession/bar area.
Also on the suite level are facilities for the press, television and radio as well as assigned spots for television cameras and spotlights. The suite level will have its own washroom facilities.
Below the suite level is the concourse level. The open concept concourse overlooks the ice surface and circles the top of the entire seating area. Here fans will find all the amenities that they would expect from a first class facility.
There is a pair of men’s and women’s washrooms in each of the four corners of the concourse in addition to a family washroom. Two large concession stands are present on either side of centre ice with a pair of smaller concession stands in each of the north end corners. Also located in the north end is the IceDogs retail store.
The south end is open and spacious, allowing room for portable concession and novelty stands. A sports hall of fame display will also be located in the south end of the concourse.
The seats are arranged in a complete bowl that encircles the entire ice surface. Although plans could change, currently the seating bowl features 16 rows of seats on either side of the ice surface and up to 15 rows of seats on the north end. The south end features 12 rows of removable seats plus wheelchair seating above on the concourse.
St. Catharines Parks and Recreation Director Rick Lane pointed out that the number of accessible seats provided goes far beyond the required standards, with accessible seating also located at the bottom and top of the north end as well as at centre ice.
There is also a designated area for television cameras at the top of the seating bowl at centre ice.
In total, the seating capacity of the facility will be over 5,200 for hockey games in addition to standing room spots.
Perhaps setting this facility apart from many others its size is the event level, located at ground level. The event level contains the refrigeration room, electrical room, zamboni area and operation and business offices for the arena.
A larger than average storage and loading area, which extends onto the arena floor when the removable seats are not in place, will allow the building to be more quickly and easily converted from a hockey arena to an entertainment facility.
Another amenity separating this facility from a regular spectator arena is the presence of two star dressing rooms and a green room which will be used by performers instead of the regular hockey dressing rooms. A nearby hospitality and catering room is also available to the performers and crew.
The event level has a concession stand and washroom facilities which spectators can use when floor seating is utilized for a performance.
On the sports side, there are 6 large dressing rooms arranged in pairs allowing each pair of rooms to be converted into one larger dressing room.
The event level also contains the IceDogs’ business offices and team facilities, which will be a huge step up from their cramp quarters at the Jack Gatecliff Arena.
Included in the designs are separate coaches and GM offices, a video room, players lounge, locker lounge, dressing room and a fitness center. There will also be medical facilities, laundry and equipment rooms, washrooms, showers and a sauna. A nearby team hospitality room, where players can meet and talk with their parents after the game, is also in the plans.
With a little more than a year to go before its grand opening, work on the spectator facility’s steel structure will begin this month.
Cranes will begin arriving on-site the week of August 11, with the first delivery of steel coming August 19. The first loads of steel will be used for columns along the north end of the facility.
“Once again a crane is erected in St. Catharines, a symbol of the progress that is happening in our great city,” said Mayor Brian McMullan. “It builds excitement among our residents and business community and says to everyone that the Garden City is in the midst of transforming our downtown and is open for business.”
Building the spectator facility’s steel structure should take 13 weeks, with the venue fully enclosed early next spring. In November, pre-cast concrete stairs for the facility’s lower-bowl aisles will arrive.
Renderings of the two pedestrian bridges linking St. Paul Street to the facility are available at www.stcatharines.ca/spectatorfacility. The north bridge will be located between Queen and James streets and the south bridge will be across from William Street. Construction on the bridges will commence later this year.
The facility is expected to open in September 2014.