McConnell Arena closes for renovations

McGill hockey teams to play home games of 2024-2025 season at Place Bell in Laval

McConnell Arena interior

McGill’s McConnell Arena will be closed from the end of April of this year to August 2025 to undergo much-needed renovations. During that time, the University’s hockey teams will play and practice at the Place Bell complex in Laval. As well, there will be no recreational programming taking place in the arena for the 2024-25 academic year.

“Without a doubt, it’s going to be a challenging year,” says Daniel Méthot, Director of Sports Programs. “But, in the end, we will have a vastly improved facility that will offer a far better experience for all users.”

Méthot says the arena, which opened in 1956, was overdue for some serious renovations.

“Like many old buildings, the arena definitely needs some love,” he says. “Many critical systems are just about at the end of their lifespan. We knew this day was coming and we’ve planned this very carefully.”

In 2022, McGill Athletics and Recreation (A&R) was awarded a grant by the Quebec government as part of the Programme de soutien aux infrastructures sportives et récréatives scolaries et d’enseignement supérieur. These funds, along with an additional investment by the University, will allow A&R to address the following:

  • Upgrading the electrical system at the arena
  • Installing an insulated slab under the ice that will improve the quality of the ice and allow the arena to remain open longer during the year
  • Replacing the current ammonia-based refrigeration system with a cleaner and more efficient CO2 system
  • Improving heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) in some areas of the arena

Home-away-from-home

Instead of bouncing around various municipal rinks, McGill’s hockey teams will have a permanent home-away-from-home for the renovation period.

Home of the Lavel Rocket, Place Bell is a major multifunctional cultural and sports complex. It includes a 10,000-seat amphitheatre with an NHL-standard ice rink, an Olympic-size ice rink with 2,500 seats, and an NHL-standard community rink that can accommodate 500 spectators.

Place Bell is providing dedicated locker rooms for the Martlets and the Redbirds which can be decorated in team colours. “Rather than transport our equipment back and forth every day, we can store it all there, which is a real plus,” says Méthot.

And for McGill hockey supporters, Place Bell is very accessible, just minutes away from the Montmorency metro.

For the most part, McGill’s hockey teams will play and practice in Place Bell’s 500-seat facility. But Méthot is discussing the possibility of having the teams play in the main arena a few times next year. “It will be a great way to promote our program in a new environment,” he says.

Reaching out to the Martlets and Redbirds of tomorrow

Méthot is not just excited for McGill hockey to have access to a professional venue, he is looking forward to expanding the reach of the whole program.

“We already have relationship with Hockey Laval, and we want to take this opportunity to develop new friends and partners in that region. It’s a hockey hotbed,” says Méthot.

“This is a chance to showcase our hockey teams to a new audience. We will be inviting local hockey players and their associations to come and see this great product of ours,” he says. “Who knows? The young kids we reach in Laval may one day come to McGill.”

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Dorothée Michaud
1 month ago

It’s nice to hear that McGill’s hockey teams will have a foster home during the renovations, but what about McGill figure sakting club?