Coach's corner: Glenview's new ice center is all dressed up with nowhere to go
The place is nothing short of spectacular. A veritable "knight in shining armor" standing proud as a peacock from its lofty perch on Landwehr Avenue. Huge in scale, but contemporary looking, fresh, sharp, crisp with architecture seemingly circa 2020.
From the inside? Equally, if not more, impressive. The Glenview Ice Center, although not completely torn down, was gutted from the inside out, almost fully rebuilt with the original full-size rink still intact, but just about everything else redone or newly constructed.
Unfortunately, for now, all is quiet at the Center. Just waiting. Waiting anxiously to show the community her new coat of armor, waiting for the adulation of crowds as they see it for the first time, but stymied as pandemic dictates reign supreme.
"Yeah, it's a little tough now," says assistant ice manager Brian Montgomery, who explains further with some optimism, "but we actually were able to have a virtual grand opening in July and then had some of our programs going in the early fall. But then come November we were pretty much shut down completely with only a few individual lessons taking place the past three months."
As the headline says. All dressed up, but nowhere to go.
Luckily, thanks to tour director Montgomery, I was able to get an impromptu insider's view of the new center. Let's just say I was in "wow mode" most of the time, as the redo is really impressive.
The first thing I noticed was how when you walk in, with the entrance now off Landwehr on the west side, the original rink is now directly to you're right. That threw me off a bit, because for many years the public would enter on the north end of the building, walking through the lobby to get to the main rink straight ahead.
I had to be convinced that the main rink directly to my right was actually the same one as before. "We didn't move it. Trust me," laughed Montgomery. "But we did change the seating where the seats are higher up now. And we added in markers for curling, which is becoming a popular sport."
A new extended front desk sits directly to the left as you enter, and it is complete with a fully stocked skate rental section, including my personal favorite accessory, a mat with all the different shoe sizes on it for proper fitting (or for trying out new dance steps, which I sneaked in when no one was watching).
Just around the corner, is the new prop shop equipped with the latest and greatest in hockey gear and accessories, and plenty of cool-looking uniforms and jerseys as well. Also in the lobby near the old main rink is a trophy case and a Glenview Ice Center Hall of Fame showcase. Very cool.
Then there is a long, semidark hallway that leads to the new smaller rink. That long walk needs a name, I thought, so for now I am going with the "haunted hall of hockey" where you could put an "H" on either side of the walls. Maybe a tradition where you must touch "the aitch" for good luck?
The small rink is perfect for younger kids, birthday parties and adult broomball leagues. Nearby in The Great Hall is Glenview's Joe Donut Shop restaurant, serving the finest in doughnuts, coffee and more.
Upstairs has more rooms than Downton Abbey. You could get lost for days up there, but if you did it would be a lot of fun. There are rooms for karate classes and yoga classes and fitness, but the coolest room is the Hockey Specialty Room. A training room for hockey skills complete with a high tech hockey "batting cage," computer-assisted target skills shooting, a rapid hands training device (think hockey version of Whack-A-Mole) and rapid shots training devices, as well as elliptical and other fitness machines.
Also, North Branch Restaurant has opened up a small snack bar upstairs with pizza and some of their other delicious food offerings.
Then, back downstairs, is the "Piece De Resistance." The crown jewel of the reconstruction project. They call it "Rink A." The new spectator rink will house many of the biggest events, including hockey games and dance shows. It is truly spectacular both in size and in look.
This large, immaculate sheet of ice is accompanied by bleacher seating for 550 and the finest in lighting and sound quality. It is sure to be coveted by players, teams and skaters of all ages, not just from Glenview, but attention from other communities as well.
My only minor complaint was the parking lot. Not the amount of parking -- there is plenty of that -- but actually getting out of the parking lot. Finding no easy exits, I had to reroute behind the ice center and out to the other side, where to exit on Landwehr there was no left turn allowed. That could prove somewhat aggravating to those heading south to go back home. Then again, my sense of direction rates negative-two on a scale of one to ten, so maybe that was the problem.
All in all, the new ice center is a wonderful new addition to the community. Hopefully it will last many years into the future and provide Glenview residents and others the best in skating, hockey and other ice-related enjoyment.
There is a big sign, now, as you enter the building that reads "welcome home." Welcome home, indeed, especially to those who have been away so long.
Let's hope, soon, the doors will reopen and everyone can partake in this new community treasure.
• Jon Cohn of Glenview is a coach, retired PE teacher, sports official and prep sports fan.