Part of the angst over renovation of the Indiana State Fair Livestock Pavilion/Coliseum and addition of the Youth Arena is that some people perceive a lot of attention was paid to making it friendly for hockey. Cindy Hoye, executive director, insists that yes, hockey is important to generating revenue for the fairgrounds, but that the architect company hired to renovate the building and design the arena was selected because they have knowledge in designing livestock show facilities as well.
Hoye also notes that the link between the fair and hickey goes back decades. In fact, the Coliseum opened in 1939. Her records indicate that the first hockey rink was installed and opened inside the building in 1940, just one year later. It has been used at various times by minor league teams, but has also been used for open skating during the non-livestock months.
This year the youth arena will be used for various youth skating activities, from open skating to leagues. The Youth Arena opens with a free skate this week and then opens for business Oct. 7, according to Andy Klotz, public relations person for the fair.
Ice was formed on the youth Arena rink for the first time on Sept. 30. A layer of ice goes down, the rink is marked with lines for playing, and then another layer of water that turns to ice is put on top. Since less space is needed for the rink than when the draft horses used the arena at this year's fair, some more seats have been added. Justin Armstrong with the fair administration says it's possible that the arena may be reconfigured somewhat to provide more seating and better views of the livestock ring before the 2014 state fair since the draft horses will show in the Coliseum. They will warm up in the Youth Arena when no other events are planned there.
Armstrong says the ice rink will remain in place until February, when other groups have booked the youth arena for events. Then it will likely be laid down again for more skating in late winter.