January/February 2019

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three NHL- and one Olympic-sized—and a vibe that's uniquely Southern California. A full wall of glass resembling a wave looks out on palm trees. Builders even incorporated outdoor gathering spaces like an amphitheater and a beach without water, so teams or parents could enjoy the sun during team-building activities or meetings. "You could literally spend a day as a family at this facility without question," says General Manager Eddie Hawkins. "It's not just an industrial stand-alone building like a lot of ice rinks that are built now are...Once you walked into the [Great Park] facility, you would know you were in Southern California." After all, the arena doesn't just serve the NHL. It caters to the nearby community, too, which is known for its physically active population. With hiking, biking, inline hockey and more, locals have hundreds of ways to get moving. Great Park embraces that culture. The facility sits on the land that used to house the historic El Toro Marine Base, which was originally targeted for another recreation center more than a decade ago. A Lot to Offer Art Trottier is vice president of The Rinks, which runs Great Park alongside eight other facilities in the region. A 30-year veteran in the industry, he has notes that trace back to 2006-07 that discuss building a new complex in Southern California. He's jazzed about creating more ice time and expanding learn to play hockey, special needs and figure skating programs at Great Park. "It's got the restaurant in there. It's got the full-service concession stand. It's got the 2,500-seat arena, the dryland training facility," Trottier says. "If you want to learn to skate, you can do it there. Public sessions are very popular in Southern California. And then you have broomball and curling and handball, also. So, we're going to try to do it all." The schedule is booked right off the bat. Right after the December holiday season, they'll be fully functional. Staff must prepare for an NHL Youth Cup, sled hockey festival, a USA Hockey District Camp and a Martin Luther King Jr. Day tournament in January. The Rinks guaranteed a strong base of tenants by building participation in in- house and adult leagues at other facilities, who would then transfer to Great Park. A few high-level skaters at Lakewood ICE will probably relocate to the new arena by the start of the year. Olympic figure skat- ers may train there as well, though rink officials aren't sure to what capacity yet. USICERINKS.COM JANUARY.FEBRUARY.2019 / 13 "IT'S GREAT FOR THE WHOLE COMMUNITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AND THE CITY OF IRVINE. IT'S NOT JUST FOR HOCKEY PLAYERS. THERE'S SO MANY THINGS YOU'LL BE ABLE TO DO IN THIS FACILITY."

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