TOWN OF GEDDES, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The New York State Fairgrounds has changed a lot the past few years, and that now includes the ice rink reinstalled in the Coliseum.
The Syracuse Youth Hockey Association, the parent organization for the Syracuse Blazers, reached out in an urgent need for ice last fall. Their teams had been using ice at Lysander Ice Arena, but found out in September that the facility could only maintain one rink, leaving many teams and clubs scrambling for ice time.
“You immediately go into survival mode trying to figure out where can we get ice,” says Tony Bird, President, Syracuse Youth Hockey.
“The Syracuse Blazers reached out to the Governor’s office who passed it on to us and said if you can make it happen, make it happen,” State Fair Director Troy Waffner tells NewsChannel 9.
The Coliseum, for several decades, maintained one main ice rink and then for several years, another smaller sheet of ice in a structure attached to the back. However, the building hasn’t had ice down for nearly a decade after the Midstate Youth Hockey organization merged with other local youth hockey clubs and no longer needed the ice there.
The State Fair was eager to help out, but actually getting the ice rink set up again wasn’t easy. The first thing the Fair and Blazers had to do was dig up all the dirt on the floor used for the horse shows, once they ended late last fall. Next, was searching for and finding as much of the old ice rink equipment used at the Coliseum as they could after nearly a decade in storage.
Bird says, “The boards we actually found in a tractor trailer. We had to have Big Red Towing pull it out of the ground because it sunk, the raccoons, everything. We had to do a lot of cleaning.”
He says it took a full community effort of services and donations from businesses, organizations parents and the young players themselves to get the equipment back into shape enough to put up a rink.
Most importantly, it took the crew from Davis Mechanical Service in Syracuse, which builds ice rinks all over the country, to get the system in working order.
Company president Chris Geatrakas says there was testing and some repairs but ultimately, “It’s flat, it’s level and it makes ice fairly quickly. As good as any other ones I’ve seen and the newer ones we’ve done.”
Now that the ice is down, the plan is to make this the Blazers’ home for years to come, working around the horse show schedule at the Coliseum.
“The love for the building itself and how it has a certain place in people’s hearts, this building is phenomenal. We want to make this a pinnacle community rink, ya know. The way it used to be.” Bird tells NewsChannel 9.
The Blazers have already had a few practices and even hosted some games at the Coliseum. They even have a goal for reviving that second sheet of ice once skating starts again next season.
Bird adds they already have new dasher boards for next season coming from a renovated rink in Northern New York to replace the ones found in that trailer now circling the ice surface.
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For more local news, follow Jeff Kulikowsky on Twitter @JeffNC9