Inline rink in memory of late president almost ready

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Despite an estimated shortfall of $42,600, the refurbished inline hockey rink at the Pembroke Community Centre will officially open on November 3.

Work continued at pace this week as state-of-the-art boards were erected by Robert Clements of Canadian firm Sports Systems Unlimited. A multi-purpose surface will soon be laid to accommodate the various sports that are expected to make use of the facility, such as football and field hockey.

The upgrading includes replacing the old cement walls that included a dangerous steel rail, a new surface comprising of 12x12-inch interlocking rigid tiles, spectator stands, players’ benches, improved lighting and scorers’ facilities. Total cost is estimated at $287,000, of which about $244,400 has been received through various donations, including $97,000 in Thomas MacNeil in-memorial gifts and $95,000 from ‘Skate for Tom’ pledges.

Thomas MacNeil was president of the Bermuda Inline Hockey League when he passed away in 2008 at the age of 42. It was MacNeil’s dream to expand the current facility into one that could be enjoyed by all the youth of Bermuda. The BIHL, under Mike Daly who replaced MacNeil as president, kept that dream alive when they embarked on the expansion project and in less than a month that dream will become a reality.

“The $244,000 that we have collected so far have all been private donations and we’re really thrilled with the response that we received from the community,” said Daly as he watched the work progress on the facility yesterday. “His wife Gail wanted that dream to continue.

“The costs in the last little while have been adding up. We originally thought it would be around $230,00 and now it has escalated up to $287,000 and we are in need of some more money. Our opening day is November 3 so we’re on track for that.

“Your are going to see everything up with the fence and all the boards by Monday. This all started on Monday morning so it’s been three and a half days. Robert is part of the company that makes the board. He’ll be leaving on Monday with all the fencing up.”

The playing surface has been increased by 62 percent, Daly revealed. ‘It’s a huge facility and it was always intended to be for many sports,” he said.

“Inline hockey is just one of them, and though inline hockey has provided all the capital it is going to be used for kids and men’s inline and men’s ball hockey. Bermuda Lacrosse Association want to use it and the field hockey association have expressed an interest.

“Everything is through the PCC, it is not our rink but the PCC’s rink. It is a partnership between the Bermuda Inline Hockey League and PCC and they’ll be in charge of determining a schedule for people to use it. We’re very pleased to be working with the PCC who have been a big supporter of us and hopefully for many years.”

The Bermuda Inline Hockey League was formed 16 years ago as a volunteer-based programme to teach boys and girls aged four to 16 how to play inline hockey at the outdoor rink in Admiralty Park. This season there are 118 registered players (98 boys and 20 girls), 65 percent of whom are Bermudian. The BIHL’s goal this season is to increase participation numbers to at least 130 players. The new and improved facility is expected to become a popular facility.

“It will always be Tom’s rink as far as we’re concerned,” said Daly. “It’s a wonderful, wonderful facility that the kids are going to enjoy for many, many years with a lot of sports.”

Anyone interested in donating funds to the completion of the upgrade or registering for the linline hockey programme can do so by calling Mike Daly at 505-8300.

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Published Oct 5, 2012 at 8:00 am (Updated Oct 4, 2012 at 6:52 pm)

Inline rink in memory of late president almost ready

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