(Photos by Bob Davies Photography – SaultSports.com)
It’s been over seven months (March 11) since Ontario Hockey League action last took to the ice inside the GFL Memorial Gardens in Sault Ste. Marie.
But despite the on-ice inactivity during the current Covid-19 pandemic, the Soo Greyhounds Hockey Club and City of Sault Ste. Marie have been busy at the Queen St. facility.
Collaboratively, the two groups have made the most upgrades in the history of the ‘Home of the Hounds’ this off-season and they unveiled them to local media earlier this morning.
In total over one million dollars worth of enhancements were made inside the facility to improve fan experience and users safety.
Highlighting the list of improvements was the installation of a new state-of-the-art video board that hangs proudly above the Greyhounds’ logo at centre ice.
The visually impressive display is comprised of four curved 6mm OES video screens complete with two 6mm OES video screen rings above and below the main display along with 4 side digital panels as well.
The video display boasts almost two million LED pixels.
A secondary OES hockey scoreboard was added in the northeast corner of the facility, new goal lights, and updated cameras were part of the package to ensure every hockey moment is captured.
OES (based out of London, ON) also designed and installed a new hockey control room complete with content management software and integrated replay system to be used.
The full purchase price and costs of installation of the videoboard and subsequent components (just over $600,000) was funded entirely by the Greyhounds as a way to give back to the best fans in the Ontario Hockey League and to provide more and better sponsorship opportunities for our corporate partners.
Along with the videoboard, fans walking inside the building will immediately notice the upgrade of all of the lighting around the parameter and above the ice surface of the Gardens.
The City of Sault Ste. Marie replaced the original lighting with new, LED high bay fixtures.
Moving to LED lighting will promote energy conservation and improve lighting conditions to help meet user group lighting standards.
This project also included a lighting control system that will improve the flexibility of facility lighting and accomodate different uses.
While down at ice level, the City procured Athletica Sport Systems to upgrade the board & glass system of the facility.
The Ontario Hockey League has adopted a policy for facilities to upgrade to a National Hockey League approved board & glass system by the 2021 season. The City of Sault Ste. Marie continues to demonstrate it’s ongoing commitment to player & spectator safety by completing this initiative by the beginning of the 2020-21 season.
That new system has cutting-edge technology, featuring:
• Soft Cap on top of the boards that absorb 96% more force than standard systems
• Acrylic shilding with one-of-a-kind impact-absorbing design
• Shielding and board systems flex upon impact easing straing on player’s bodies
• Curved acrylic on ends of the benches