Updated June 3, 2019 - 3:05 pm
Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland fired a pair of wrist shots, shattering a glass pane of the Henderson Convention Center and paving the way for more hockey to occur in the area.
But the next time, it will be inside a state-of-the-art ice arena in the city’s downtown.
The Knights and Henderson kicked off their partnership to build a $25 million-plus Vegas Golden Knights at Henderson facility Monday, with a ceremony readying the demolition of the convention center located on the southwest corner of Water Street and Atlantic Avenue. The city will kick in $10.7 million of the project’s cost.
After demolition of the convention center is complete, crews will get to work on the planned 104,000 square feet the Henderson facility that will feature two sheets of ice, a Mackenzie River Pizza restaurant, meeting and retail space. The facility is expected to open in July 2020.
With the popularity of hockey exploding after the early success of the Knights, the youth hockey programs operated at the team’s City National Arena in Summerlin are very popular, according to Knights President Kerry Bubolz.
About 30 percent of the youth who participate in those programs at the Summerlin facility come from Henderson so the location for the team’s second facility made sense.
“This will be a lot more convenient,” Bubolz said. “How many kids were over here that didn’t get the opportunity to play because of that issue of trying to get to Summerlin from here? We’re excited to be here, again, this community has wrapped their arms around the Golden Knights and it’s very exciting.”
The team’s choice of Henderson for the facility was cemented further after witnessing how the city’s residents showed up for watch parties at the Henderson Pavilion during this year’s playoff run, Bubolz said.
“I was blown away by the number of kids and families,” he said. “There were literally thousands of people there. I said, ‘You know what, this was the right decision,’ and we couldn’t have picked a better location.”
The team will continue to practice at City National Arena, but several player appearances, special events and watch parties are planned for the Henderson space, Bubolz said.
“I know we’re already going to have camps here with players and some of our hockey coaches and we’re also going to do free clinics,” he said.
Additionally, there will be 30 hours each month set aside for free skate events as part of the community benefits agreement with the city, Bubolz said.
Las Vegas resident Michael Warner, whose 9-year-old daughter Gianna got interested in hockey after the Golden Knights inaugural season, is excited to have another team-branded facility for his daughter to hone her skills in.
“It’s really nice because it’s built such a nice community and togetherness in Las Vegas already,” Warner said. “It’s going to be nice, because City National won’t be so congested by helping spread it out and allow other families to take part.”
Including 5,000 square feet of meeting space in the new facility was important to the city as the convention center played host to various events over the years and some of those will be able to continue in the new digs, according to Henderson City Manager Richard Derrick.
“At the convention center, we have a number of events downtown and we’d love to continue that momentum,” Derrick said.
Taking advantage of the area, the Mackenzie River Pizza restaurant will be near the front of the facility, offering views of both the ice and the downtown area.
“The doors will open and the bar will overlook the Water Street area,” Derrick said. “There will also be a staircase that goes down to the events plaza so we can host watch parties on the events plaza. We’ll have a large jumbo screen on the side of the building.”
The 19 employees who worked at the convention center — four full-time and 15 part-time — are being assisted in finding new jobs. The full-time employees have already been transferred to lateral jobs within the city, according to city spokeswoman Kathleen Richards. Of the part-time employees, two have netted new jobs with others in the process of applying for new jobs in the city, Richards said.
Water Street is in the midst of a revitalization with new businesses opening up in the past couple of years and more projects on the docket. Since word of the Knights lining up with the city got out, even more interest has been shown by potential developers, according to Mayor Debra March.
“It’s a game-changer for Water Street,” March said. “Water Street has been struggling for many years and I think with some of the investments we’ve seen… we’ve seen a real tipping occur. But this project has stimulated other projects to come to our community as well.”
With the Knights hockey facility in downtown and the Raiders constructing their team headquarters and practice facility off St. Rose Parkway, the city is welcoming the wave of major league professional sports to the valley with open arms.
“Sports has a home in Henderson,” March said.
The Henderson ice arena is expected to only be the beginning of Knights facilities popping up around Southern Nevada. As the youth interest in the sport continues to grow, having proper facilities for them learn the game in is vital, Knights President Kerry Bubolz said.
“When you have thousands of kids in the learn-to-skate programs that we have right now, they have to have places to go and play as they evolve and grow through our hockey pyramid,” he said. “We’ll start to look beyond the valley to see what’s next. We really believe there is enough demand for the game to build more facilities and we’ll keep looking around valley for that next spot.”