Invitation to the ice...
[b]Belarusian sports amateurs are no longer surprised at new facilities being built, since arenas and stadiums have been springing up annually for some time. However, the cutting of the ribbon at Chizhovka-Arena has been awaited with impatience, being one of the venues for the 2014 World Ice Hockey Championship. [/b]Alongside Minsk Arena, the foremost venue, the new building is to host the strongest teams on the planet. The arena may still smell of paint, but it’s now ready to be the focus of the world’s attention.
Alongside Minsk Arena, the foremost venue, the new building is to host the strongest teams on the planet. The arena may still smell of paint, but it’s now ready to be the focus of the world’s attention.
Chizhovka-Arena’s future will comprise of ice hockey matches, figure skating and short track speed skating competitions and other ice sport events. Of course, it can also be easily converted for other games and sports — such as weightlifting, gymnastics, boxing and, even, musical concerts. According to the Canadian company which transforms the largest arena in the USA in this way — Madison Square Garden, in New York — it takes just two hours from start to finish.
Chizhovka-Arena has eight locker rooms, offering the latest conveniences. The small arena is intended for training students of our sports schools, as well as for figure skating. Between the arenas are a press centre, a conference hall and a zone for leisure and entertainments. Besides bowling, billiards and saunas, there are cafes and restaurants, and a wonderful spectator area, with huge windows.
Chizhovka-Arena is the working name for the site but will soon be changed, reflecting perhaps the name of one of the financial sponsors, as declared by Yunost club, for whom the sports centre will be the home arena. Most large arenas worldwide follow a similar route. Several large enterprises took part in helping build the sports complex, so the choice remains open to speculation.
The Chizhovka site is truly unusual in appearance, having changed design several times since the initial stage. An Arabian company was the first to prepare the site, which is the second largest in the country. However, the design offered by the eastern architects was set aside, in favour of a modernised copy of the sports complex in Bobruisk, thanks to Belpromproekt enterprise. The result is a wonderful decoration for our beautiful capital and a welcome addition to the district, which has rather lacked sports facilities for young people. The entertainment centre, with its selection of shops rivalling the Belarus Department Store, is sure to prove popular.
The arena is opening in two stages, with only one of two bridged flying saucers currently open to the public. The smaller of the two is already welcoming guests for group figure skating. Once the whole site has launched, it will be, without exaggeration, the centre of life in this part of the city. The district is being transformed, having once been considered ‘remote’. Its park on the banks of the reservoir has also been rejuvenated and Tashkentskaya Street, which leads to the city centre, has been widened, to aid traffic flow. Guests of the 2014 World Championship will be able to travel to Minsk’s second largest arena within a few minutes, as will city residents.
Round the ice
Hockey players and fans have waited the opening of the arena eagerly, as have other sports enthusiasts. The capital has lacked venues of sufficient size to host European level events. Now, basketballers, handballers and, even, representatives of bandy are keen to use the new facilities.
Young handballers opened the gym; however, Minsk’s volleyballers are to take up permanent residence: men’s squad Stroitel and Minchanka — a women’s team. Both play at a high European level but, until now, have been training and playing national matches in the small hall of the College of Arts and Crafts. Volleyball Director Alexander Mishin is a regular visitor to Chizhovka Arena already, attending frequently over the past month to try and remove any inconveniences. He tells us, “The gym is excellent: perfectly suited to the needs of our Belarusian players. We can only express our thanks. Nevertheless, certain elements still need completion — such as flooring and other technical matters.”
Both of the arena’s halls are designed to host competitions but a few shortcomings still need to be fixed by January, in time for the traditional Christmas hockey tournament organised by the President. It may be a ‘baptism of fire’.
Yunost club emblem is now on show over the central entrance to the arena. Of course, besides being a professional team, it runs one of the strongest children‘s sports schools countrywide, as the Deputy Director General of HC Yunost-Minsk, Igor Molchanov, underlines. He sees the new complex as the last brick in creating an independent system of sports training for Belarus. “After the transfer of Chizhovka-Arena’s ownership to the club, the total number of students at Yunost school will be about 570, all enjoying amazing facilities. Most of the locker rooms at the small arena will be for children, including showers, tools for sharpening skates, and drying rooms for uniforms and equipment. There will even be TVs for analysing play. There’s no doubt that other teams in the Belarusian championship will envy Yunost’s training facilities,” Mr. Molchanov emphasises.
Just a few hundred metres from the new arena, a hotel has been reconstructed, with one floor being set aside for our hockey players’ accommodation. Besides training at Chizhovka Arena, sportsmen will have close access to the two other ice arenas in Minsk — in Gorky Park and in Pritytsky Street. The arrangement makes sense on many levels and is considered to be the most effective solution.
By Dmitry Komashko
Yevgeny Vorsin, the Chairman of the Belarusian Ice Hockey Federation, tells us,
“In applying to host the World Ice Hockey Championship, our country had some serious competition, with our victory in many respects inspired by our plans to build the second largest arena in the capital. I’m sure that it will be in demand even after the World Championship. It may be problematic to fill the stands but it has a unique location and fans are sure to appreciate its facilities.”