After months of delays tied to weather and equipment delivery, the John Breslow Ice Hockey Center has an opening date.
Figure skaters, hockey players and University of Nebraska-Lincoln students can take to the ice on Dec. 15.
Dehumidification and climate control equipment was installed recently and water in the rink is freezing in layers, said Brooke Hay, UNL assistant director of facilities, planning and construction.
On Friday, the $11 million center's Zamboni was delivered.
“We’re nearing the end. We’re doing all the final touches,” Hay said. “Opening a new facility is a great day, especially when it’s a unique facility that will have a lot of benefit for the community.”
Rink Management Systems, which will manage the building, already has skate lessons scheduled, in addition to hockey practices and open skate times, according to the center's website.
Two staff members -- one with experience as an ice skater, another as a hockey player -- will oversee the Breslow Center’s operations, RMS Regional Manager Lou Lombardo said.
Ice time is filling up fast, especially for the Lincoln Ice Hockey Association, President Chris Bockmann said.
“We thought our first practice would be a week after the center opened, but no, they wanted to get us in there, so our first practice is on Dec. 15,” Bockmann said.
Alongside the Ice Box, the Breslow Ice Center is expected to grow the game of hockey in Lincoln, she added.
“When we had one sheet of ice, we were limited to how many hours we could use it,” Bockmann said. “The Breslow will allow us to bring in tournaments with teams from out of state, we’ll bring in additional camps and expand our leagues.”
Roughly 400 players take part in the Lincoln Ice Hockey Association’s adult and youth leagues, Bockmann said, although she anticipates doubling that number in the next few years.
That will meet the goal of Breslow, a former minority owner of the Phoenix Coyotes of the National Hockey League who donated $7 million for the project. The gift sat in limbo until the NU Board of Regents approved the project in early 2014.
The Breslow Ice Center overcame more delays: site preparation challenges, heavy rains in May that flooded the area along Salt Creek and a delay in delivery of custom-manufactured equipment necessary to create the right climate inside the building for ice.
Hay said the equipment’s delivery earlier this month -- ahead of the revised projected delivery date -- was cause for celebration.
“That allows us to open in December, which sounds like a great time to open up,” she said.
Schedules and pricing can be found at breslowhockeycenter.com.