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Nanaimo arena renovation nears completion

Normally, a lack of ice in the summer is a good thing.

But with a $1.9 million renovation closing down Cliff McNabb Arena from May to the mid-August, Nanaimo's parks, recreation and culture department found itself on a slippery slope in terms of juggling organized sports in the city.

The renovation of the 18-year-old facility includes rink ventilation upgrades, a heat recovery system for hot water, an indoor snow melt pit for the Zamboni, a new roof and upgrades to dressing rooms.

The arena, scheduled to reopen mid- to late-August, is one of the busiest in the city, operating 20 hours a day, seven days a week between September and April, and 16-20 hours a day, seven days a week from May to September.

Darcie Osborne, manager of arenas, said the closure required a lot of juggling and co-operation to keep everything moving smoothly.

“The closure impacted both our ice and dry floor users in the last four or five months,” she said. “Everything that operated out of Cliff McNabb this spring and summer was transferred to [Nanaimo Ice Centre] two.”

The city’s lacrosse associations bore the biggest brunt of the closure, having to run games and practices on two floors at Nanaimo Ice Centre No. 1 and Frank Crane Arena instead of the usual three.

“Lacrosse had to amend its schedules because we ran ice at NIC two,” said Osborne. “That took some manoeuvring, but we got it all done with a lot of work and co-operation.”

Jan Mongard, project manager, said ice goes into Cliff McNabb after the August long weekend as crews test the refrigeration plant and other components.

“Both Frank Crane Arena and Cliff McNabb ice plants will now be controlled by one computer,” he said. “That’s a new feature we need to make sure works.”

Ice went into Nanaimo Ice Centre No. 1 Tuesday and Frank Crane Arena is scheduled for ice Aug. 20 following the Vancouver Island Exhibition.

“Everything is coming together and it should be business as usual on all four ice sheets come September,” said Osborne.

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