THE reason why Cardiff Devils have been forced to delay their move into their brand new £16m home has finally been revealed.
Fans were left disappointed and confused after the team’s planned debut game on February 27 at Ice Arena Wales in Cardiff Bay was suddenly cancelled last week.
Although no public explanation was given, privately many of those involved in building work and organising the move were expressing frustration about the delay.
Today we can reveal that the postponement is a result of delays to receiving permissions to fit communications lines and furnishings.
Permission to connect the phone lines – which are needed to run the till and ticket systems – across third party land, is holding up the Devils move. Similarly, the installation of kitchen fittings is yet to be completed.
As a result, the Devils have now moved their February 27 game against Coventry Blaze back into the Big Blue Tent. The team now hope to play their debut game in the Ice Arena against Belfast Giants on the weekend of March 12 – though this has not been confirmed.
Jonathan Smith, development director at Greenbank Partnerships, said: “We’re still waiting for some of the phone lines to go in as they have to be connected over third party land and we need consent first.
“Other than phone lines it’s mainly furniture, kitchen equipment and cellar work that needs completing.
“The Devils always had aspirations to play in the Arena on the 27th but its availability on this date was never confirmed.”
Mr Smith said he was frustrated that Ice Arena Wales has been blamed for the Devils’ announcement to postpone their debut at the arena.
“The Devils have clearly now reappraised the situation and found that not all of the facilities will be available by the 27th, which, to be honest, was always going to be the likelihood under our fit-out programme,” he said.
Amateur ice hockey team, Cardiff Fire, tested out the arena at games on February 13 and 14 – leading some fans to question why the Devils aren’t allowed to play there.
An ice hockey fan planning to attend the game said: “I can’t say anything you could print but I’m bloody annoyed. The Cardiff Fire team played so what’s the problem?”
Mr Smith said Cardiff Fire didn’t rely on ticketing or till systems and this meant they could use the arena in its current state.
“In short, they were happy to use the rink with these limitations – the Devils understandably are not,” he added.
Kris Agland, Cardiff Devils commercial director said: “We did a dry run with an amateur side and thought it was a safer bet to postpone.
“It’s been 10 years waiting and it’s not worth rushing it. We apologise to any fans but we are still playing in the Big Blue Tent.”
Chris Hartrey, Ice Arena Wales operations director, said: “I’m doing everything in my power to have it open by next week. At the end of the day, there’s nothing I have said to cause the decision to delay.
“It’s down to the Devils not having their changing rooms ready. My stance as the operator is as soon as I’m ready to open, we will open.”
Mr Hartrey refused to comment on the telephone lines delay.
Another fan called for balance, he said: “I think it’s unfortunate but I believe the Devils want to ensure a smooth transition. There must have been some issues raised from the Cardiff Fire games.”
When it opens, the arena will hold 3,008 people compared to the 2,300 capacity of the Big Blue Tent.