Cary, NC — The Canes recently hosted a great tour of the Hurricanes practice facility in the Wake Competition Center in Morrisville off Aviation Parkway. This is a phenomenal sports facility, not just for hockey.
Currently there are 3 buildings, one for gymnastics and one for volleyball with each at about 50,000 square feet. The main building is roughly 120,000 square feet and has the main attraction of 2 full sheets of ice. There are also turf soccer fields that are second to none with the turf being the same as used on some fields for professional sports teams.
The black rink, with seating for about 500, is made to every NHL specification including curved glass, regulation glass height, bench sizes and the all important penalty box. The red rink, which will be the main ice for the Canes, has seating for about 1200 spectators but can increase that with standing room at ice level and a limited amount upstairs. The seats are both heated and have infrared heaters from above.
“New Practice Home” of the Canes
The Canes utilize 12,000 square feet and have everything a player could ask for, including:
- A work out area that is full of natural light and excellent equipment
- The all-important TVs with sports channels always on
- A medical room
- An equipment room that is still a work in progress with skate balancing and sharpener stations already in use
- Huge laundry area with washers and dryers
- A teaching/coaches room with a Kelly sized LED TV
- A room for the general manager that players probably prefer to never enter as those meetings usually don’t go all that well
- A great looking and inviting lounge with a well-stocked kitchen area
- Ping pong table
- Changing room
- A sauna
- Two huge hot tubs
- A locker room
All of these are at least a tenfold increase over the previous facility and there are current photos of Canes players and slogans plastered on walls.
Canes Are Just a Tenant, There’s a Lot More to the Complex
The main building also has the Accelerator School, where students practice their sport for 90 minutes every morning then attend school with teachers and online studies until 4:00. The day we had the tour, right after the students left the ice, Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov started their daily skate.
It was really cool for these students to see and interact with local sport stars. Speaking of Svech, there’s a 35 foot poster of him in the lobby celebrating a goal. The Accelerator School provides high quality middle and high school training programs, a 21st-century small classroom environment with a low student-teacher ratio and international programs to promote global awareness and exposure for future successes.
Plenty of Locker Rooms
NC State and Duke hockey clubs also have dedicated locker rooms as do the Junior Hurricanes and an under 19 women’s hockey team which are the envy of the ACC. Having a place to store equipment rather than schlepping from a tiny dorm room or apartment is a dream come true for these student athletes.
Jeff Ammons, managing director and developer of the facility, did plenty of forward thinking including adding an extra locker room for girls that play on a boys team. His vision was to have something that is not only functional now but will be functional and good looking for 20 years. Mission accomplished!
There is also a pro shop and on the second floor, there are rooms for corporate meetings, yoga classes and birthday parties. A restaurant is next on the agenda with high top tables overlooking the red rink already in place.
They have coaches for specialized training at the facility, including: strength coaches, figure skating, workout, hockey, gymnastics, volleyball, soccer or just about anything that causes sweat.
Ammons could not say enough good things about Canes GM Don Waddell and the Hurricanes. They did everything and more of what they said they would do and being a tenant raised a flag as to the commitment for supporting the facility.
While I was on the tour, the Junior Hurricanes were having practice. Practice wasn’t a game situation, but it’s no fluke why this team performs well in tournaments in Canada. There are some skilled players and with more ice time available, there’s no doubt it won’t be long that some, whether current or future, Jr. Hurricanes will be drafted.
The NC State (WolfTV) and Duke games are broadcast and available via streaming through their school’s channel The organ which was at the PNC Arena is now functional on the second floor of the red rink. I don’t know the exact schedule, but open skating at night is available.
Once that restaurant opens, you’re talking a perfect evening for a family or date night. After we get to a new normal, just hanging out watching practices, having a coffee or sandwich could be a fun outing. Here’s their website to check out further.
The Canes players think this place is great and adds one more reason why playing for the Canes is a fantastic stop in their professional careers.
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