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Convert peninsula into ‘hockey heaven’

Denise Jewell Gee put the blade to the ice in her article about creating neighbors for Dug’s Dive. Now, we should make strides, and convert the little-used peninsula of land between Gallagher Beach and the Small Boat Harbor into a slice of “hockey heaven.”

Perhaps Sabres’ owner Terry Pegula would reward the fans’ patience and spend a few million to construct the Rick Martin Pavilion, home to North America’s finest sheet of outdoor ice. Large enough to accommodate the annual Labatt pond hockey tournament, it would be free and open the rest of the season to families, ice skaters and pond hockey enthusiasts.

Ringed by a giant speed-skating oval, the approximately 200-foot-by-600-foot ice surface would attract serious skaters from all over the country and the world to train. In the summer it would feature an enormous concrete pad for skating, roller hockey and dry land training for speed skaters.

A rustic pavilion that covers the entire surface would ensure all-weather play. Solar panels and skylights would provide light and energy to run the compressors and concession stands. Small wind turbines would charge the batteries of the Zamboni.

The design is simple: wooden beams, the open-sided look of an oversized picnic shelter, with roll-down screens for wind abatement. Smaller picnic shelters could overlook the main pavilion, so parents can keep a safe and comfortable eye on their kids.

After the Sabres’ initial donation to fund construction, the operating budget would be funded by a percentage of the concessions from the surrounding businesses that pop up, similar to Dug’s Dive business model.

The Rick Martin Pavilion would feature man-made ice, smooth skating and family fun for generations to come. “Hockey heaven, anyone?”

Marty Walters

Derby