The Minnesota Wild and NHL unveil brand-new state-of-the-art training facility and mentoring room in Minneapolis
The Northeast Ice Arena off Central Avenue in Minneapolis was built in 1997. A classic grey brick barn with a well-lit single sheet of ice that transforms into a soccer and lacrosse turf field from March through August, Northeast Ice Arena has spent the last 25 years introducing kids in the Minneapolis area to the sport of hockey.
Minor upgrades have been made to the community rink throughout its time — including a larger-than-life mural of Wild defenseman Matt Dumba and inclusive and inspiring words against the backdrop of the Minneapolis skyline that was completed in January — but there was still something left to be desired: a training facility.
“We didn’t have a workout facility at all,” said Elsie Lawless, a senior defenseman for the Minneapolis varsity girls’ team. “We could do like, body workouts around the rink, but nothing really more than that.”
On Wednesday that all changed, as the Minnesota Wild and NHL unveiled a brand-new state-of-the-art training facility and mentoring room as a part of a project in partnership with the League as a legacy to the 2022 Discover NHL Winter Classic.
Emblazoned with the NHL shield, Minnesota Wild Foundation and Herb Books Foundation logos, and a can’t miss “Hockey is for Everyone”‘ decal on the walls, the newly added space includes rubber and turf-like flooring, a speed, agility, and plyometric area, a strength and conditioning area with various weights and equipment for bodyweight training, as well as an area for cardiovascular conditioning with Airdyne Bikes and slide boards.
The facility is one of several such projects that have been completed as a part of the NHL’s legacy initiative, an ongoing philanthropic endeavor through which the NHL and its teams support community organizations in the host city of the NHL event (like the Winter Classic at Target Field).
“You want kids to feel comfortable and engaged in their own communities,” explained NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Social Impact, Growth Initiatives and Legislative Affairs Kim Davis. “A big role of hockey is to use our resources to create stronger, more vibrant communities.
And so, the idea that every time we commit to a community that we (the NHL) are welcomed into, we honor them by leaving something durable and important to the community. We ask them what they need. We don’t impose our will on them. Here in Minneapolis, they decided a dryland facility was where their need lied most.”
A training facility wasn’t the only addition in the project. A mentoring room was also built as part of a collaboration between the Wild, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, the Herb Brooks Foundation and local law enforcement. Local law enforcement from Hennepin County and the City of Minneapolis will assist in staffing the facility and serve as mentors to youth participants.
“These kids are lucky,” said Dumba, who was on hand to help break in the new facility with the Minneapolis varsity captains, and Wild strength and conditioning coach Matt Harder. “Just to have a spot like this…this is going to take them to another level, whatever that level may be, but it brings them together. Creates a safe spot for them to go and become better hockey players and better people with their teammates.”
And within laying the betterment of the facility, is bettering the community, with the hope that future hockey players help the inner-city association grow, and hockey grow in exchange.
“We don’t want to just do good enough. We want to do better,” said Superintendent of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Al Bangoura. “And what this represents here is better. It’s excellence. It’s having the best facilities for our kids, having the best amenities for our young people, because we’re competing for them. We want them to come to a place that’s state-of-the-art, and it’s amazing.
“We’re going to continue to grow and we’re going to do great things together. We’re going to keep improving hockey and provide the best facilities for our young people.”
“It just shows you what we can do when we all work together,” added Dumba. “It’s crazy when you have all hands, everyone pulling in the same direction, the kind of culture and kind of facility you can make here.”
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