They were making ice Wednesday in Summerlin while sprucing up the outside and continuing to build upstairs.
Yes, the Golden Knights’ home is starting to look and feel like, well, home.
The two-rink practice facility, which has been branded City National Arena, is nearing completion. The 146,000-square-foot headquarters, which will cost between $25 million and $30 million to complete, will be ready for occupancy Aug. 25. More important, it will be ready for the team’s inaugural training camp, beginning with the rookie camp Sept. 8. Veterans report Sept. 14.
“We’re not quite at the finish line, but at least I can see the finish line,” said Murray Craven, the team’s senior vice president. “There’s probably still a month of work left. Nothing major, just some odds and ends. All the heavy lifting is done.”
Craven has overseen the project from its embryo stage, even picking the brain of his daughter Haley for what to include in the facility. The process included three location changes, delays for acquiring permits and lengthy negotiations with the Howard Hughes Corporation, which owns the land at the site, on the lease.
Construction did not begin in earnest until early November. But here in early August, the building is nearly ready for occupancy, on schedule and pretty much on budget.
“It’s a credit to everyone who worked on the project,” Craven said. “We had a tight time frame to work with, with the goal of being ready before training camp in September, and we met that goal.”
Craven, who played 17 seasons in the NHL, will take a test spin on the ice sometime Thursday afternoon. By the end of the week, the surface should be ready for play. Dan Patterson, who will be the building’s general manager, said the players will feel comfortable on the ice as well as off of it.
“We want it to be NHL-quality ice every day,” he said as workers continued to spray layers of water to the base to build it to a 1 1/2-inch thickness. “So we’re going to work hard to maintain the ice and the building in general.”
Defenseman Deryk Engelland came by Wednesday for a tour and left impressed.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “If you’re a player, it has everything you want in a practice facility. I think the guys are going to be real excited to come to work here every day.”
It will also serve as the new home rink for UNLV’s hockey club, which is going to Division I this season and has aspirations of becoming an NCAA varsity sport in the next couple of years. The Rebels will have their own locker room at City National Arena, and their season begins Sept. 15 at Arizona State with the home opener set for Sept. 22 against Colorado.
In addition, it will be home for youth hockey as the Junior Golden Knights will play there, and the two rinks will host tournaments starting in mid-September.
“We want the community to feel welcome here,” Craven said. “It’s going to be great for our Junior Golden Knights program to play here and to host teams from all over. We plan to have tournaments at every age level.”
As the ice was going in Tuesday, marking yet another important milestone for the project, Craven had his own private celebration.
“I had an extra cocktail after the final red line went in,” he said.
Contact Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow @stevecarprj on Twitter.
City National Arena facts
What: Golden Knights practice facility and team headquarters
Where: 1550 South Pavilion Center Drive, across from Downtown Summerlin shopping center
Highlights: Two full size NHL rinks, seating for 600 at each rink, team locker room, sports medicine facilities,equipment room, video room, player lounge, coaches’ offices, restaurant and bar, team store, skate rental, snack bar.Team offices on second floor.
Size: Two stories, 146,000 square feet
Cost: Between $25 million to $30 million
Contractor: Gillett Construction