Acadia Arena undergoing transformation

University making the best of $1 million donation for arena improvements

John Decoste
Published on July 21, 2014

When the 2014-2015 university hockey season starts this fall, there will be a new look and a new feel – not to mention a new name – for Acadia Arena.

Last fall, as part of Founder’s Day celebrations to mark the school’s 175th anniversary, it was announced that the McCain family had made a $1 million donation targeted toward renovations and improvements to the arena complex.

In return, the McCain family was given naming rights for the facility, which starting this fall will be known as the Andrew H. McCain Arena.

“Andrew McCain had an affinity for Acadia hockey,” says athletic director Kevin Dickie. Several members of the McCain family are Acadia graduates.

Last year, Dickie said, the arena celebrated its 25th birthday.

“This was a tremendous way to mark that anniversary, and the university’s anniversary, with such a generous gift.”

Work underway

Work on the improvements to the building got underway this summer. Once completed in September, visitors to the arena complex will see a lot of visible changes, not to mention some more subtle alterations.

Most evident is a new all-weather walking and jogging track, running 250 metres around the perimeter of the arena.

The track will include an ‘air curtain’, Dickie said, “allowing us to maintain the temperature, both in the arena and in the rest of the facility,” while allowing the arena doors to remain open for unobstructed use of the track.

A large sign, visible from Main Street, will promote the programming and facility, “in a 2014 kind of way,” Dickie said.

See a slideshow here.

On entering the facility, the entrance to the athletic complex will be modernized, with accents featuring Baltic birch from Latvia. This woodwork will “set the tone for what you’ll see in the lobby and in the arena,” Dickie said.

Inside the arena, one of the most visible and obvious improvements is enhanced lighting throughout the facility.

“(The lighting) will completely change the feel of the arena, and will be visible to anyone attending events there,” he said.

Dickie also has exciting plans around branding the hockey Axemen - and all of Acadia's varsity teams - which will add to the new look and feel surrounding the program.

Community use

The changes to the arena, he says, are already having an impact. The new track will be available to both Acadia students and the community.

Rails have been installed in the aisles, on both sides of the arena, to allow for easier accessibility to seating for fans with physical challenges.

The sound system in the arena has been improved and work is being done on the ventilation system, both in the arena and throughout the athletics complex.

The final piece of the project is fully re-roofing the arena. The donation, Dickie said, “hasn't just provided for bells and whistles. We've also been able to do some badly needed, deferred maintenance.”

Dickie said his goal is for Acadia to be a national program, and facilities play a big part in that.

“What we have here, with the arena, will without question help us create new partnerships in the future, with other people who want to be affiliated with our athletic program,” he added.