Parts of Sandman Centre will look a little different this year as the City of Kamloops works to complete renovations in the 27-year-old facility.
Renovations include an expansion of loge seating introduced last year, renovated concession stands and new boards and glass that bring the facility up to league standards.
City parks and civic facilities manager Jeff Putnam showed off the city’s work on the downtown arena on Friday morning.
Most recently, the city completed upgrade work on the boards and glass encircling the ice surface, bringing them up to Canadian Hockey League standards intended to help player safety. Putnam said the new boards and glass system is state-of-the-art and a significant improvement. Changes include a new material — acrylic rather than tempered glass — and boards that are four inches lower.
“The glass is what has the shock absorbers in it,” Putnam said. “So when a player goes into the glass, they [boards] will bend significantly.”
Another benefit of the new glass is that it’s much lighter, meaning there may be operational savings to the switch as well.
Previously, Putnam noted, a forklift with suction cups was required to take down the boards for a concert, but now two people can handle the panes. The previous system also had 47 different shapes, meaning storage needed to be highly organized. Now, there are 23 different shapes of glass, making everything easier to take down and put back up.
The project cost the city just under $1 million and came in about $50,000 under budget, Putnam said.
Another project nearing completion is the expansion of the arena’s loge seating.
Last year, third-level seating on the arena’s south side, which Putnam said was “very under-utilized,” was converted to loge seating, featuring 16 tables with four seats each, available for about $6,500 per season. That money goes to the Blazers, but the city is benefiting from additional food services revenue.
Because of how popular the arena’s loge seating has proven, an additional eight tables have been added to the area and will be ready by the start of the the Western Hockey League season in September, Putnam said.
“We’re one of the first facilities in the entire WHL to have this and we’re getting calls from all over Canada asking us how it has gone,” he said.
Sandman Centre is also getting its first food service renovation since the arena opened in 1992. Both concessions will be retrofitted with new countertops, cabinetry and tiling. Putnam couldn’t provide details, but said a new menu is also in the works by Compass Canada, the arena’s food service contractor.