A DATE has been set for the opening of the £17m Ice Arena Wales in Cardiff Bay.
The new venue will replace the Cardiff Bay Ice Arena, affectionately known as the Big Blue Tent, with the Cardiff Devils due to play their first home game on February 27.
Commercial director for the Cardiff Devils Kris Agland said the team were informed about the date last week.
Mr Agland said: “We honestly can’t wait to get in there [the new arena]. The team will have a chance to play at the new stadium before the first official game so we’ll be quite settled by then.
“In a weird way we’ve got so accustomed to the Blue Tent and without it we wouldn’t be where we are today, so we’re grateful we had that, but we’ve definitely outgrown it now.”
The Big Blue Tent was intended to be a temporary structure but has been the home for ice sports in Cardiff since the demolition of the Wales National Ice Rink in 2006.
The Ice Arena Wales will have two ice rinks as opposed to the existing one at the Big Blue Tent.
Mr Agland said: “Having two pads instead of one will mean the public have more chance to use the facilities which can only be a good thing for the area.”
One of the pads in the Ice Arena will be Olympic size (60m by 30m), with the second slightly smaller than the existing pad at the Big Blue Tent (54m by 24m). The facility will seat 3,000 spectators, 500 more than the Big Blue Tent.
The Ice Arena will have four curling lanes and has the capacity to host other major events such as boxing.
Mr Agland was quick to dispel any concerns the move into the new venue could disrupt the team. He said: “We’re currently top of the league and only have five games left remaining for the season but it’s going to be a great move.
“We’re used to a smaller ice rink and that makes it difficult for away teams, but with the amount of away games we play on Olympic size pads it will only benefit our play. The move will give the team a boost in the home stretch of this season.”
Cardiff Devils player Joey Martin was equally excited ahead of the move. He said: “I will definitely miss the Big Blue Tent, but I think I speak on behalf of everyone that we are very excited to move into the new facility.”