Bentley arena fundraiser triples expectations

The recent Bentley Generals versus Alumni fundraiser raised three times the amount it was expected to garner.

The recent Bentley Generals versus Alumni fundraiser raised three times the amount it was expected to garner.

The Bentley and Area Multi-use Facility Building Society president Jennifer Johnson says the outcome and outpouring of support from the community was phenomenal, especially considering half the event was free to attend. “It totally exceeded our expectations.”

“It’s our first one,” she added.

Johnson says the society figured if the fundraiser was able to bring in $1,000 it would be a success, it earned $3,000.

The fundraiser, which took place Nov. 14, began with a free hockey clinic hosted by the Bentley Generals. “It was very well attended and very well received,” said Johnson.

“Even the Generals said it was a blast hanging out with the kids and giving back,” she added.

The clinic was followed by a family skate, the Generals versus Alumni hockey game, and dinner with both teams.

“The Generals and Alumni were bantering back and forth and said it’s the best thing that’s ever been done and they want todo it every year,” said Johnson.

She explained there are already plans to make the fundraiser an annual event. “The atmosphere was so light and so jovial.”

Johnson says people in the community were so generous, proving a new arena is both a want and a need in the community.

Bentley’s arena was originally an outdoor rink and when citizens wanted to extend the season a steel structure was built around the ice.

However, there is no heating pad under the ice’s concrete slab and Johnson says this has considerably compromised the slab and can compromise the pipes.

“It’s a very aging infrastructure,” said Johnson.

“The building is great,” she added.

Johnson says the roof was recently replaced and believes it would be good space for other commercial endeavors. “As an arena it’s life has passed.”

“An arena is all about the ice,” she added.

Eight years ago an engineering study highlighted the compromised ice concrete slab and recommended replacement within three to four years. However, Johnson says there are always challenges getting large projects such as that underway.

Building new arena in Bentley is going to be a daunting task and at the moment Johnson says there is no cost estimates nailed down. “It’s not below $6 million, we know that.”

The purpose of the recent fundraiser is to complete a needs assessment to update the eight-year-old study.

Johnson says she is so thankful to the hockey teams, sponsors, volunteers and to the Town of Bentley, which donated all of the ice time to the fundraiser, saving it approximately $400 to put back into the cause.