By ALAN SNEL
Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Calvin Pickard just finished an interview in the VGK’s training center locker room and 15 minutes later the media covering the NHL’s newest team filed into a room to ask coach Gerard Gallant questions about the team’s first exhibition game in Vancouver.
Meanwhile, one floor up at the MacKenzie River pizza pub inside the City National Arena, restaurant manager Josh Andino greeted his servers and manned the eatery front Friday afternoon.
In the building’s sprawling lobby, youth league hockey players filed in while a woman sat at a table telling visitors about the Las Vegas Hockey Festival tourney Friday to Sunday.
The Golden Knights’ two-rink training center and team headquarters — City National Bank bought the naming rights to the $25 million building — is evolving into a community center where kids to NHL pros to figure skaters share the same ice and pizza pub, too.
“It’s hard to find a professional sport league where the kids use the same rink as the pros do,” Andino said.
Indeed, City National Arena is much more than a team practice center. UNLV’s hockey club plays there, along with guys in men’s leagues and teens in youth leagues. Figure skaters also practice their jumps, while open skating periods cost only $8 if you bring your skates and $10 if you rent skates.
The new team store called the Arsenal (the VGK shop at T-Mobile Arena is the Armory) was originally supposed to open Friday. But a worker in the Golden Knights mobile store truck said the Arsenal will be open Monday. She noted that Golden Knights jerseys should be ready to be bought at the Armory team store at T-Mobile Arena Sept. 21.
Monday will be a big day at City National Arena because team owner Bill Foley and Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison will have a ceremonial puck drop to christen the impressive building, which was constructed with private dollars. The Oakland Raiders are moving to Las Vegas and are building a new stadium and training facility thanks to a $750 million stadium subsidy from southern Nevada. It’s doubtful that kids will be able to play in youth football leagues on the Raiders practice fields.
The ice facility is off South Pavilion Center Drive near Red Rock Resort and Downtown Summerlin. Only a half-mile away down South Pavilion Center Drive, the Las Vegas 51s Triple A baseball team — owned by Summerlin developer Howard Hughes Corp. — plans to build a new ballpark but the owner has not revealed when construction will begin.
Contact LVSportsBiz founder/writer Alan Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com