The new Boston Bruins practice facility at Boston Landing in Brighton will be an intimate venue dedicated solely to hockey, team officials said Thursday at a topping-off ceremony for the building. Warrior Ice Arena will seat just 650 fans, 450 seats less than Ristuccia Memorial Arena in Wilmington, where the Bruins have practiced since 1987.
The 175,000-square-foot facility also will be host to youth hockey and public skating sessions when the Bruins are not holding practices.
“One thing I think is incredible is having all the young people in the city who are going to have a chance to skate on the same ice as their heroes,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said at the event.
Jay Rourke, project manager at NB Development Group, the company managing the development of Boston Landing, envisions Division III college hockey also using the ice rink, which is named after athletic equipment manufacturer Warrior Sports. But no concerts, fairs, or events that do not take place on ice will be held at 80 Guest Street, Rourke said. New Balance Athletics owns Warrior, the maker of equipment for hockey, lacrosse, and soccer.
Cam Neely, president of the Boston Bruins, said the seating is going to be set up better than the current 1,100 seats at Ristuccia Arena. Players are excited to have a medical room, training room, lounge, and weight room that are more up-to-date, he said. The former Bruins right wing said the team is working on adding an NHL ProShop to the grounds, but the details are not yet finalized.
Outside the hockey facility will be 12,000 square feet of retail space. Rourke said it is unknown if the restaurants will be ready by Sept. 16, the start of training camp, but the usual fan food will be inside the arena for purchase.
Ground was broken on Warrior Ice Arena and adjacent 10-story office building in December 2014, which is just part of the 15-acre parcel of the $500 million Boston Landing project. New Balance opened its new 250,000-square-foot world headquarters in September. Fans will see the cruise-ship looking building to their right as they enter the Bruins’ training space.
A new commuter rail station along the Framingham/Worcester line ending at South Station is expected to open by the end of 2016, two years later than originally expected. A hotel, multisport event center with a raised track, 275-unit residential complex, and publicly accessible open space also are under construction. NB Development Group plans to have the area completed by summer 2018.
“This is more than a hockey rink,” Walsh said of the area that is considered the entrance to Boston from the west. “Boston Landing is an economic engine. It’s a vital piece to the growth and success of Brighton, Allston, and all of the city.”
The Boston Bruins are not the only professional sports team to upgrade their practice facility. The Los Angeles Kings have a 135,000-square-foot practice facility, the Toyota Sports Center, that includes a sports bar. Fans can buy gym memberships, and even host kids’ birthday parties there.
The New York Yankees’ spring training field in Tampa is the home ballpark for one of the team’s minor league affiliates. But it’s also a concert venue, a photo backdrop for rent at $100 per hour, and the site of fantasy baseball camps that charge participants as much as $4,950 to spend a week pretending to be pros.
The Dallas Cowboys will have a 91-acre multiuse megaplex in Frisco, Texas, which is expected to be completed by the fall of 2016. It will include a 12,000-seat indoor stadium for the Cowboys, high school football games, and other events.
About three years ago, Neely called Jim Davis, chairman of New Balance Athletics, to ask if an ice rink was in the plans at Boston Landing.
“No, not unless you want one,” Davis responded to Neely. “Now three years later, we are witnessing a world class arena rising right before our eyes.”