By Carter Brooks
Images courtesy of 50 Below Sports and Entertainment
The newest member of the Western Hockey League will have a totally revamped home for the 2019-20 season.
After officially announcing the purchase and relocation of the former Kootenay ICE from Cranbrook, BC. to Winnipeg for the upcoming WHL season by 50 Below Sports and Entertainment in late January 2019, the new ownership group has released its plans for upgrades currently being done to Wayne Fleming Arena at the Max Bell Centre on the campus of Winnipeg's University of Manitoba.
Currently serving as the home to both the male and female U of M Bisons hockey programs during the winter months, the 'Flem' will undergo a number of significant changes to between now and the first game of the 2019-20 exhibition season in the WHL.
Changes include upgrades in the number of available seats from 1,400 to 1,600, added premium loge seating, a balcony on the eastern side of the facility, a new ice-level party lounge, a new video jumbotron hung above centre ice, upgrades to the media gondola, protective safety netting, professional style arena boards and glass, a major overhaul of dressing rooms, as well as concession upgrades and in-arena seat service.
According to a press release from the Winnipeg ICE, different meal/snack options will be available depending on seating.
"Regular and Premium Seating will be provided in-seat service of confectionary menu items like fresh popcorn, chocolate bars, salted peanuts, cotton candy, chips and beverages.
The Premium Party Lounge and Premium Loge Seating will be offered the same in-seat service of confectionary items and beverages, along with an expanded menu featuring Premium ICE Meals (menu still to be announced), as well as other Fan Fare Favourites including Loaded Nachos, Beef Burger on a French Bun, Chicago Style Hot Dog, Poutine Trio or French Fries New York Style."
In terms of in-arena food, the concession area inside the foyer and main concourse will feature digital menu boards with different feature foods available per game. Game-by-game features will include taco-in-a-bag, pizza by the slice, boneless chicken bites and other delicious grab-and-go items, along with a signature ICE float and a variety of ice cream sandwiches.
Pizza, pretzel, cotton candy and mini donut stands will also set up shop on the northernmost side of Wayne Fleming. The VIP Lounge will offer a buffet consisting of a rotating themed menu: Pasta or Taco Bar, a Chili, East Indian, Mediterranean or Ukrainian buffet, Pub-Style Fare Menu or Beef-on-a-Bun.
The Winnipeg ICE will begin their inaugural season in Manitoba in late September, with an inevitable showdown with new provincial rival Brandon Wheat Kings. Season seat memberships are available for the 34 regular season home games starting at $45.75 a month.
Artist renderings of Wayne Fleming Arena: