Before I get too far, I will preface the following comments by noting that I am a member of the Spectra Place Arena Committee and as such, you can take my comments with a grain of salt if you want.
But I think the residents of Estevan, and southeast Saskatchewan for that matter, are in for one hell of a treat whenever Spectra Place opens it doors.
Along with my fellow committee members, city employees and other interested parties, I had the chance to tour the arena site last Thursday.
Because I was laid up in a hospital bed earlier this year, I missed a chance to tour the construction site, so Thursday was my first opportunity to get a glimpse of the new rink.
All I could really say afterwards was "wow".
When you decide to serve on a committee such as this one, you do so knowing that if whatever you're working on sucks, your name is going to be attached to that project for an awfully long time. And with something of this magnitude and importance to the community, I can guarantee you that everyone on the committee is well aware of that fact.
After Thursday's tour, I would say the majority, definitely not all, of those concerns are gone and I think Spectra Place is not only going to be a source of pride for the city, it will also set Estevan apart from similar sized communities in terms of the amenities and entertainment we will be able to offer.
The first thing that strikes you as soon as you enter Spectra Place is the size. From the outside, it really doesn't look all that impressive. Don't get me wrong, the structure is pleasing to the eye and all that, but when you look at it, it really isn't that much bigger than the Lignite Miners Centre.
But as soon as I entered the arena, I was taken aback by how big it actually is. With the seating bowl and ice surface recessed into the ground, it really makes for a large and open area that should provide great viewing for fans. People will also be happy to know the concourse is nice and wide which should help alleviate any congestion issues. It will also be a nice treat for the people who are eagerly anticipating the walking track that will go around the entire concourse.
The lobby was clearly another area that stood out. Although it's not completed, you could get a definite impression of what to expect. It is definitely a good size and should provide more than enough room for the public. There are also ample washroom facilities and access to the concession area. Let's face it, with what we've been working with for the past few decades, anything would be an improvement, but this is a significant step forward.
The lobby forecourt area was almost complete and gave everyone on the tour an idea of what the completed lobby will look like in terms of the laminated wood ceiling and beams that look really sharp. When we started this whole thing, we wanted the lobby to be a showcase part of the arena and I was happy to see that will be the case.
We also had a chance to see the dressing rooms and facilities in the lower part of the arena. We toured what many are calling the Estevan Bruins complex and there is no doubt the team will also be taking a major step forward in its facilities.
After years of cramming into that shoebox of a dressing room at the Auditorium, the Bruins will get a dressing room that is spacious and much more befitting a junior hockey club. There is also a nice sized players' area and office for the coaching staff as part of the complex.
The eight dressing rooms that will be used by the various teams are also a good size. Again, they are an obvious step forward from anything at the Aud and comparable, if not larger, than the rooms at the LMC.
To wrap up the tour, we walked out onto the arena floor and had a chance to take in the magnitude of Spectra Place. As I said before, it really is something to see.
About the only negative is that it isn't ready yet. I really wish I could just blink my eyes and it would be complete. But until I get that super power, we will just have to wait. But, in the opinion of your friendly neighbourhood potty-mouthed reporter, it will definitely be worth the wait.