METRO WEST DAILY NEWS – The long-awaited 88,830-square-foot expansion of the New England Sports Center is about two months away from completion and will make the facility one of the largest indoor ice arenas in North America.
The project: City officials last year approved a special permit allowing New England Sports Management, which operates the facility, to expand. The expansion will include two new ice rinks, 110 more parking spaces and a second restaurant, said Wes Tuttle, general manager of the center.
Ongoing and future work: Since construction began late last fall, crews cleared trees from the 23-acre site, installed the foundation, interior walls, footings and plumbing, erected the steel frame. Interior pipe work will be completed next week. In the coming weeks, crews will erect the exterior walls and pour the floors for both ice rinks. “It’s a big milestone in our project,” Tuttle said of pouring the rink floors. “We’re pleased where the progress is. So far everything has been going along well.” Tuttle expects the new rinks will open sometime in early September.
Growth and economic benefit: The two new rinks will likely increase business by about 25 percent and provide additional opportunities, such as allowing more teams to play, the addition of a curling club and attracting bigger national and global hockey and figure skating tournaments. The additional rinks will allow the Hero’s Cup Hockey Tournament to expand and the center to host the U.S. Figure Skating Adult National Championships in April, which will bring upwards of 2,000 skaters. “We’re excited to add significant events we wouldn’t have been able to without (the expansion),” said Tuttle. “The hospitality industry should drive benefit for that.” Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Susanne Morreale-Leeber recently estimated the center is responsible for the rental of about 30,000 hotel rooms each year, a number she expects will grow with the expansion.
The facility: Originally constructed in 1994 with four ice rinks, the New England Sports Center has undergone a handful of expansions in the past 12 years. In 2005 the facility added a fifth rink and expanded again in 2010 to add a sixth. The complex also features a pro shop, arcade and restaurant. Only a few other ice arenas in North America have eight rinks.
This article by Jeff Malachowski originally appeared here.