Fans in the front row for Victoria Royals games this season may want to watch their drinks.
Upgrades at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre installed this summer will mean the boards and the glass shake with much more give when players collide into the boards.
“Everything moves,” said Trevor Foster, director of operations with the GSL Group, the operator of the arena. “Don’t put your beer along the boards. You’re going to lose it.”
|The new boards at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre will feature a soft cap along the top edge of the ice-surface side, and the new glass will feature curves where its edges meet the player benches. (Kevin Menz/News Staff)|
The improvements, which were league mandated for all Western Hockey League teams ahead of the 2019-2020 season, are designed with both player and fan safety in mind. The new boards, for instance, include soft caps along the top edge of the ice-surface side, while the new glass — which is, in a technical sense, not glass but acrylic — will only crack, instead of shatter.
“The safety aspect is far beyond what the last set was, for sure,” Foster said.
The glass is also curved where its edges meet the player benches, which can prevent hits — recall the infamous Zdeno Chara hit on Max Pacioretty in a 2011 NHL game — in which a player is driven square into the shielding’s edges; the posts between the sheets of glass are no longer aluminum, but polycarbonate; and the boards are no longer anchored directly into concrete, but, rather, anchored into the ice dam, which provides more give.
“I think we’re going to see a lot more hitting from this, because it’s not going to hurt. They have a lot less chance of injury,” Foster said.
|Curved glass where the shielding meets the player benches was one of several upgrades to the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre’s boards and glass this summer. (Kevin Menz/News Staff)|
Readying the arena for concerts and other events will also be easier, with the upgrades. The new glass, for instance, weighs much less.
“The glass is the biggest thing,” Foster said. “For example, the glass in the Zamboni bay used to weigh 350 pounds, 400 pounds. We needed six people to take that piece of glass out. Now, two people can put that in. It’s about 75 pounds.”
The changes also come just in time for the upcoming NHL pre-season game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Calgary Flames. The league wouldn’t host the event at the arena without the improvements, Foster said.
The cost of the upgrades, paid jointly by the arena operators and the city, out of a capital reserve fund, totalled $350,000, plus installation.