September 1, 2006

Lynah Shoots for Opener

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While the exterior of Lynah Rink still looks like a work in progress, the finishing touches are already being put on parts of the interior. The first layer of ice sits waiting for lines to be painted, new benches have been installed in the old locker rooms, and the new north concourse is wearing its fresh coat of paint, awaiting for the Faithful to arrive.

“We’re pushing to get it open for the first game,” said Greg Crossett, the construction manager of the site from the University’s Planning, Design and Construction Department. “It’s just been normal construction.”

During a tour of the site yesterday afternoon, Crossett said that the project has been moving forward smoothly, and he expects the ice to be laid out and members of the men’s and women’s hockey teams to be skating on Lynah by Sept. 11. At that time, it will be safe for up to 50 people to be in the building at once. By Oct. 15, the night of the annual Red-White scrimmage, Crossett expects the rink, all seating, and the old home and visitor locker rooms to be up and running.

“It has the intimacy of the rink it was before, but all the dimensions of a first-class facility,” said Athletics Director Andy Noel during the tour. “It’s looking good but no promises [to be ready by Oct. 15].”
Indeed, the renovation and addition that calls for 19,500 square feet and 464 new seats to be added has already changed the face of Lynah Rink. Three rows of bleacher seats — made of the same wood as the old seats — are set to be added to each of the student sections.

Premium luxury boxes and high priority seating have been added to the north side of the arena, and are waiting for the arrival of the chairs in mid-September. A brand new mezzanine level has been constructed above the old home locker rooms, and awaits 54 premium seats in that same shipment. The scoreboard will now hang from below the front rail of the mezzanine, and a new, smaller scoreboard has been mounted in the rafters to keep those out of sight, informed of the game’s progress.

“[Men’s head coach] Mike Schafer [’86] is really excited about the mezzanine,” Noel said. “It really completes the bowl a little bit. … [These seats will] bring action and excitement around the rink.”

At center ice on the south side of the rink, right in the midst of the student section, rests the mouth of a new tunnel, which is a pathway to the new home locker rooms. The new design for entry will allow the Red to spill on to the ice from the heart of Lynah’s most faithful and raucous fan section. Behind the crest of the tunnel, the press box hugs the north wall of the rink.

“It’s really exciting,” Schafer said in a phone interview yesterday. “The biggist thing is that the construction company has done an unbelievable job of being on schedule. We’re really excited about how things are going — we’ve maintained the tradition but we’ve been able to provide everything, with lockers and offices and everything else, for our student-athletes to have every day. The combination has been great.”

The new facilities for coaches and athletes include new locker rooms that are roughly twice the size of the old ones and include drying rooms. Locker rooms and offices for the coaching staff have also been installed, along with study areas, film rooms, and a training room looking out onto Campus Road and Schoellkopf Field. There is also a multipurpose room for alumni receptions and team dinners before road trips.

While the program’s facilities have been noticeably upgraded, the new and improved Lynah will also feature aesthetics meant to please the fans. The main entrance to the rink off Campus Road opens into a peaked atrium with a skylight.

“It has a little bit of a ‘wow factor’ — you’re not just walking in a door,” Noel said.

Also, a new concourse encircles the rink — eight feet wide on the north side, and 12 feet wide on the south side. After the completion, the renovation and construction, Noel said that the Athletics Department plans a future project that will add graphics, trophy cases, and a Cornell memorabilia display similar to what can currently be found in the Schoellkopf House. The doors connecting the concourse to the rink demonstrate the attention to detail that has been a constant throughout this process — they will be held open by magnets during games, which can also be released in the event of a fire to contain the blaze.

Tonight, the water supply from Bartels Hall will be tied into Lynah,, making the new bathrooms on the north concourse operational.

The only foreseeable problem is a hole outside the northwest corner of the rink, where the loading docks are being built for the new Life Sciences building rising from the ground adjacent to the north side of Lynah. However, Crossett said that a meeting had been arranged for next Tuesday to make sure this would not disrupt the fire escape routes from Lynah and hold up the rink’s opening date.

“The process [has lasted] really for the last seven or eight years, knowing that we really needed a facility to keep up the great tradition,” Schafer said. “Just with fundraising and with architecture plans and now with construction – it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s exciting to go in and see what’s going on.”

On Oct. 15, Noel, Crosset, and Schafer hope that the Lynah Faithful will get their chance for a first glimpse of the new Lynah Rink.