During Valentine’s Day weekend in 2010, youth hockey teams from the United States and Canada took part in a tournament at the Rostraver Ice Garden outside of Pittsburgh.
The tournament ended abruptly when heavy snow caused a collapse of the Ice Garden’s roof. No one was hurt, but the damage shut down the rink for the rest of the season.
Eight months later, rink owner Jim Murphy re-opened the facility built in 1965. “It was really tough for years after,’’ Murphy said. “Insurance didn’t cover everything and I had a lot of debt, plus other things that needed fixing.’’
The rink, which is home to youth teams, two high school teams, a learn to play hockey program sponsored by Pittsburgh Penguin Sydney Crosby, adult leagues, and the men’s and women’s teams from California University of Pennsylvania, won the 2017 Kraft Hockeyville contest. The Clinton Arena is a finalist for the 2018 title sponsored by Kraft.
The title came with $150,000 of improvements, a list Murphy said contained repairs he would not have been able to do for years, if at all.
“We couldn’t have done the capital improvements without winning the Kraft Hockeyville title,’’ he said. “We spent every penny of that grant and then some.’’
With enough votes gathered between 12:01 a.m. Friday, April 13 through 11 a.m. Saturday the 14th, the Clinton Arena can also receive needed work on the 65-year old facility owned by the Town of Kirkland. Clinton is one of four finalists for the Kraft Hockeyville 2018 title, with the winner announced Saturday afternoon during an NBC NHL game.
Rostraver’s improvements thanks to the generosity of Kraft included replacing 32 lights with 64 LED bulbs, better lighting in the locker rooms, updating the bath-rooms, having new banners made to display state championships won by the home teams, a banner marking that an NHL player started his career there as a young skater, new floor mats, new tiles in the showers, rubber mats put in the lobby, upgrades to the Zamboni, and improvements to the parking lot.
“The list goes on and on,’’ Murphy said. “I went back in debt because I took out loans to do work after the $150,000 was spent.’’
Unlike Rostraver, which is privately owned, the Clinton Arena is a public facility, which requires taxpayer money for repairs. Kirkland Town Supervisor Bob Meelan said spending the $150,000 would start with the roof, portions of which are original since the Arena was built in 1953 to replace the original Arena destroyed in a fire.
“We’ve been babying it for the last 20 years because we don’t have the money to fix it,’’ Meelan said. “It’s been a mess. Then we need to look at the locker rooms, lights, you name it, it probably needs fixing and updating. We wouldn’t have trouble finding ways to spend the money.’’
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