Hockeyville? Colosseum in Final Four for Kraft Hockeyville

Jamie Glenn/Daily Mining Gazette Calumet’s Alex Studebaker looks on as Marquette’s Andrew Fedrizzi attempts to shoot during a game at the Calumet Colosseum this season. The Colosseum is in the Final Four for Kraft Hockeyville.

CALUMET — Just a couple of years ago, the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes graced the Lakeview Arena in Marquette with an NHL preseason game as part of the reward for winning the Kraft Hockeyville contest.

This year, two rinks in Michigan are still in the running for Hockeyville as the field has been narrowed down to four, the Calumet Colosseum and the Cadillac’s Wexford County Civic Center.

The four-rink field also includes the Eagle River Sports Arena in Eagle River, Wisconsin, and the Bernicks Pepsi Arena in Sartell, Minnesota.

Throughout the contest process, fans and community members have been encouraged to post testimonials as to why their rink should be considered the next Hockeyville rink.

Scott M., for example, talked about how hockey is a huge part of the culture in Calumet.

“Hockey is in our blood,” he said. “Hockey is a big part of growing up in our area because of the amount of snow and the length of our winters. Driving down the streets, you can often find kids playing hockey in the streets or at the many local outdoor rinks. It’s just a way of life.”

The Colosseum is the oldest indoor ice arena in the world, which is part of the reason why the rink could benefit from an infusion of funding from the NHL.

“My very first memories ever were of the sights, the sounds, and the smell of the Calumet Colosseum,” said Betsy C. “Little did I know, when these ‘first’ memories were being ingrained into my memory, I would be spending over 70 percent of my youth where almost every day revolved around this magical place.”

The Colosseum is the home rink for the Calumet Copper Kings at the high school level as well as the Calumet Wolverines at the senior level. It is also where most kids in the Calumet, Laurium and greater Keweenaw area lace up their skates for the first time.

Several people have shared their experiences and their thoughts on the Kraft Hockeyville website.

“This place is beyond just a place, as it was, and still remains, a social life for many of us ‘yoopers,'” Betsy C. said. “On the weekends, or especially before high school games (high school hockey is huge here), I still see vans pulling up to the front door and dumping a family’s worth of kids off to play, watch siblings or parents play, or simply just hang out and have a mini sticks tourney in the halls.”

Betsy C. also captured the fact that the rink itself is a centerpiece for the greater community as a whole.

“It’s the epicenter of our community,” she said. “Where hockey is everything.”

With the Colosseum being as old as it is, having funds from outside the community could help keep the building as a place where youth in the area can learn and grow.

“The locker rooms are in need of new materials,” said Erin M., “the roofing leaks and forget about heating. Parking and snow removal/management is a constant battle.”

Erin M. shared her concerns that without further funding, the rink could be reaching the end of its lifespan. It is a problem that goes beyond hockey to an area that could find itself without an identity.

“Without help, I fear the rink will continue to decline and the long history of hockey in Calumet will dwindle,” she said. “This could cause irreparable damage to the community and its future.”

James N. echoed much of concerned Erin M.

“We need this rink to keep our kids off the streets and off devices,” he said. “It is important that the rink be chosen for Hockeyville to carry on the great tradition of hockey in Calumet.”

The contest, which is now in its fifth year, is currently in a stage of taking suggestions for next year’s competitors. This period will last until March 30, when fans can vote for the winner.