City National Arena a major boon to Las Vegas community
When Robbert McDonald says that it’s an exciting time for Nevada hockey right now, that could actually be taken as an understatement.
McDonald, the director of hockey operations and assistant manager of the brand-new City National Arena in the Summerlin part of Las Vegas, said the local community seems very excited about the new rink opening up, both to watch the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights practice and also for the programs and what the facility will be offering to the community.
“We recently had an open house where the community was welcomed to come skate and gather information about our programs and we saw 50 kids sign up for our ‘Learn to Skate’ program, which was very exciting to see,” said McDonald. “We also had the Golden Knights rookie camp going on, and the community turnout to watch that was very positive and exciting to see.”
Seeing the excitement level, especially among the youth population, is a sign that Las Vegas has the potential to be a hockey hotbed down the line.
“I think not only having a facility for the community will help grow the participation numbers, but also having our presence as an organization (Golden Knights) will help the participation numbers for all of Nevada,” said McDonald. “The NHL and the Vegas Golden Knights will be helping with cost of programing and gear for first-time participants in ‘Learn to Skate’ programs and ‘Learn to Play’ programs, not only at our facility, but at the Las Vegas Ice Center and Sobe Arena. I think with both the NHL and the Vegas Golden Knights being involved with helping the community afford these programs, we’ll see numbers grow at a rapid rate.”
McDonald also noted that Golden Knights senior VP of hockey operations Murray Craven put forth the effort in designing City National Arena.
“The players and staff love the facility, which provides them all the space and resources needed to be at their best,” said McDonald. “Murray put a lot of great thought in designing our facility and having been in the league, he knew exactly what the team would need, but also having the youth hockey experience as well, he knew what the facility would need on the public side to best service the community as well. I always share with people that the building has great flow – from the pro side to the public side – and a lot of thought went into every detail, and it was fun to be a part of that process.”
It was also a very lengthy, but rewarding, process.
“It has been long days and long weeks for all of us being a part of this, but we’ve all enjoyed it at the same time,” McDonald said. “Every day, regardless of how long they’ve been, they’ve been fun and I think I speak for everyone when I say we had the right people in place to not only execute what needed to be done, but work hand in hand with one another as a team, which made it that much more enjoyable for us all.”
And if the registration numbers weren’t enough to be elated with, just take the fact that on the day the Jr. Golden Knights youth program stepped on the ice for the first time, there were families that had their whole day revolve around that monumental event.
“The first day we were scheduled to hold Vegas Jr. Golden Knights practice, families were showing up hours before their practice at City National Arena because they were so eager to see it and be in it,” explained McDonald. “That enthusiasm was awesome to see and we plan on building on that enthusiasm through our programming and the various events we plan on holding. All our programs align with USA Hockey’s nationwide American Development Model player-development program and we’re excited about growing the game here in Nevada.”
— Matt Mackinder
(Nov. 7, 2017)