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Planned ice arena in Waterville will bring hockey back to the area

Fundraising begins for $7 million project
Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 5:28 PM EDT
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WATERVILLE, Maine (WABI) - Plans were unveiled Friday for a new ice arena to be built next to the Alfond Youth and Community Center (AYCC) in Waterville.

When Sukee Arena and Event Center in Winslow closed in 2016 after 30 years of operation, local hockey teams were forced to find other facilities to practice in.

Now there will be a new facility, conveniently located next to the AYCC.

The announcement of the Central Maine Community Recreation Arena came after several months of silent funding. The project has the support of the Central Maine Youth Hockey Foundation and the City of Waterville.

Additional investments have been made by Jamie & Sawyer Boulette, Fabian Oil, Golden Pond Wealth Management, Sheridan Corporation, and Kennebec Savings Bank. Each donor received a custom wooden hockey stick as thanks during the ceremony.

“Every kid deserves some time on the ice.” said Kennebec Savings Bank President and CEO Andrew Silsby. “The heart of soul of the Waterville/Winslow area has been in ice sports and I just think it’s an amazing opportunity.”

Other support includes a $1 million dollar gift from Doug & Rita Sukeforth, former operators of Sukee Arena, via the Sukeforth Family Foundation. And $1 million of in-kind equipment donation from Colby College.

“We raised 2.7 million dollars towards the project already.” says AYCC CEO Ken Walsh. “We have a long way to go but it’s great energy early on and it shows great community support.”

“It’s going to take the whole community to build this facility and so these are the early folks who donate and we encourage lots of other people to join us.” said Silsby.

The arena will feature a full ice sheet five months of the year and a turf field for the rest. In the meantime the AYCC has installed a small synthetic hockey rink in a gymnasium.

“Recreation is economic development.” said Walsh. “When you’re able to give more avenues to families they want to be a part of the community and this project is part of the Waterville Renaissance that’s going on.”

The facility will be located between the tennis courts and pool just next door to the Alfond Youth Center. The City of Waterville has approved a 99-year land lease agreement for the project.

“Anything that we’re doing to increase the activity of our children helps with their health further on down the road, it helps our community.” says Waterville Mayor Jake Coelho. “We’re building strong leaders, it starts with sports.”

A variety of naming and sponsor opportunities are available, and if all goes well the facility could be up and running in the next few years.

Ken Walsh says it’s the best fundraising campaign he’s been a part of. “Central Maine hockey town will be back and we’re very excited about this development.”

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