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Worthington Arena gets new facelift

WORTHINGTON -- The Worthington Area Hockey Association is excited about recent improvements and facelifts to the Worthington Arena, and it's all just in time before the start of the upcoming hockey season.

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Worthington Hockey Association President Scott Langerud stands on the recently installed new bleachers at the Worthington Arena. (Alyssa Sobotka / The Globe)

WORTHINGTON - The Worthington Area Hockey Association is excited about recent improvements and facelifts to the Worthington Arena, and it’s all just in time before the start of the upcoming hockey season.

Within the last two weeks, the hockey association installed brand-new Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible bleachers. According to WAHA President Scott Langerud, the metal bleachers will offer spectators a more comfortable and safe seating experience than the greatly aged wooden counterpart they replace.

“This is a game changer from what he had,” Langerud said.

Langerud said a crew of hockey association volunteers effectively dismantled the old bleachers, which, if he were to venture a guess, date back to the 1950s. Old scrap metal from the frame was recycled, and the wooden boards were given to interested community members for personal projects that utilize reclaimed wood.   

Installation crews came in after, installing the six rows of inclined bleachers.

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Equipped with more designated stairways and railings and additional space per seat, Langerud said about 50 to 70 seats were lost. However, he does not foresee that as being a huge concern.

“We were rarely at capacity,” he said. “I think we’re going to see now that we’re closer to having a bigger crowd.”

More spacious and comfortable seating isn’t the only thing hockey and other arena event spectators will enjoy.

Thanks to a recent collaboration of various organizations, the road and parking lot for the arena now reaps a paved surface.

According to Langerud, the bleacher project - which has been a goal for many years - may have continued to be put on hold yet again if the parking lot hadn’t been addressed. Thankfully, he said, completion of that project allowed the association the opportunity to begin addressing some of its other needs inside the building.

He said about $40,000 from previous fundraising efforts and another $22,000 from memorials have helped fund the project. Some memorials include those made in honor of longtime hockey association support Jeff Nickel, who died in a September hunting accident. As an additional symbol and honor of Nickel’s legacy, Langerud said nine face-up nickels pointed to the crowd have been installed beneath the ice on the face-off dots and center ice.

While the bleachers have been installed, additional funds are still needed for the more than $80,000 total project.

The association hopes to add a barrier between the dasher board and beginning of the bleacher platform for safety measures. They’d also like to add a plastic decking on the metal bleacher seats for additional comfort, which will incur further expenditures.

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Monetary contribution questions may be directed to Langerud at 370-2566.

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