Just a start: Hockeyville money just the beginning

David Archambeau/For the Gazette Fans take in a game during this spring’s Gibson Cup action at the Calumet Colosseum. The Colosseum was picked as Kraft Hockeyville USA this spring and has received $150,000 for arena upgrades.

CALUMET — With the Calumet Colosseum’s naming as the fourth Kraft Hockeyville USA at the end of March comes the quickly approaching preseason NHL game between the St. Louis Blues and the Detroit Red Wings in a game that will be played on Thursday, Sept. 26, and will also be televised on NBC Sports.

Before the game can be played, a lot of work went into Calumet’s bid. Calumet Hockey Association board member and media relations coordinator John Carroll discussed how planning went before the hockville win and now in preparation for the game, an event a few years in the making.

“I helped get some work done on the ice plant and helped get the new zamboni and the new boards and glass in over the last several years,” he said. “We tried to get the Hockeyville title about five years ago, when it first came out in the United States. I was heavily involved in that. This year, when we went for it again, I was involved in this year’s effort also.

“I was involved in trying to get the word out that we were trying to win this and we needed people to submit stories and photos so that we would get nominated. Once we got nominated, we were really involved in trying to get people to vote for the Colosseum and we were successful. We were pretty happy about that.”

The Colosseum entered Hockeyville in 2015, during its first year, but came up short. In the time that has passed, the rink has already gone through some improvements. Such investments, Carroll says, helped the Colosseum bring home first place in March.

“I think timing has a lot to do with it” said Carroll “When we first tried to win, we realized that we were on their radar, that they were aware of us and that they knew about us,” he said. “From the first time we tried until this year, we were able to put in new boards and glass and I think that’s one of the things that helped us this time (and) made it more viable for us to host that NHL game.

“A few years ago, the old boards and glass were really worn out. They were in rough shape. I think part of it too they recognized that the community got together and helped ourselves. I think there are a lot of rinks out there that may have relied really heavily on winning Hockeyville to do improvements.”

None of this would have been possible without the help from past and present Copper Country community members.

“One of the nice things about our community is that when we have needs, the community was able to get together and take care of a lot of those needs ourselves,” Carroll said. “I think that’s something they look for. They want to see a community that’s involved in the rink and raising money on their own and being successful doing that.”

Planning is underway for a week full of fun leading up to the early fall game. Tickets for the main event will be free and will be offered on a lottery system.

“We’re planning a lot of the activities the week before the game itself,” Carroll said. “That has us really busy. As a committee, we meet every week and we’re in communication every week and are in communication with the NHL, the players association and the other partners almost daily. (We just met) to iron out details and put together events that we would like to have planned for that week.

“The tickets will be dispersed through a lottery system. As far as capacity for the building goes, we’re working with the NHL, the players association, NBC and Kraft, trying to figure out how many people we’re going to be able to seat. Right now we don’t know. We expect to have more information on that in (early) August.”

With the top Hockeyville prize came $150,000 in renovation money for the rink.

“What we were able to do is start work on a few things in the building, things that have been on our wishlist,” Carroll said. “We’ve already done a lot of work over the last several years, so we’re in really good shape to host the game. At this point, it’s just doing things that will keep the building (and) the ice plant going for the next (many) years.

“The great thing about winning this is that it gives us a jumpstart to make improvements and make repairs that will keep the building going long into the future. It takes the stress off the hockey association and the other users of the building.”

“Normally we would have to have fundraisers to come up with all of the money to keep the building going,” he said. “Winning something like this, along with the (money), goes a long way towards helping us out and keeping things going. Then the hockey association doesn’t have to raise so much money.”

Though the Kraft Hockeyville money is a great start, the Colosseum is still looking to fundraise the remaining money needed in an effort to protect the longevity of the historic rink.

“We’re about to keep costs down,” said Carroll. “Hockey is an expensive sport to begin with, (so) anything we’re able to do like this keeps the costs down in the feature. More kids are able to play, more families can afford hockey. It’s good for the whole community.

“We’re going to be doing fundraising in addition. We’re going to be getting (Kraft Hockeyville) shirts and stuff like that in. The money that we make off that will go towards funding for the ice arena. The community can help support the arena just by buying muchindise.”

Other fundraising efforts have also been considered.

“We also have a raffle for a John Deere side-by-side, proceeds for that raffle will also go to help the Colosseum,” Carroll said. “We’re doing some fundraising (in hopes) to raise the additional money that we’ve won from Kraft. That will really help us out. That will go a long ways towards bringing everything up to snuff.”

When asked what the Colosseum means to him, Carroll reflected on the its ability to withstand the test of time and hopes that this pre season game helps feature generations of hockey players and fans.

“Everything that Calumet has been though over the last 100-plus years with mining and everything else, I think it’s amazing that the building is still there (hosting) continuous hockey all these years,” he said. “Everything that the community has been through over the last 100 years, (they) still support that building. I think that’s remarkable.

“If we can share that with the rest of the country with this hockey game, I think that’s a good thing.”

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