For the last 20 years, arguably the biggest event in the EIHA Juniors hockey calendar has been played out of Hull Arena. In May 2015, when the EIHA Conference Tournament officially turns 21, it will be moving to IceSheffield for the first time.
There’s a lot happening a Hull Arena recently, with various long-standing groups either losing their timeslots, or suddenly having their fees dramatically increased. Due to “changes in EU regulations” causing some major works to be carried out, the arena has closed its doors for around 6 weeks, making a number of ice hockey teams essentially homeless for the period. It’s not been the best time for the arena, and now on top of that, they’re going to be losing one of the biggest events of the ice hockey year.
A quote from Tournament Director, Geoff Hemmerman, on the EIHA website:
“Some will ask why are we moving from Hull, when it is the traditional home of the tournament. We lost the use of some of the facilities that had previously been available to us. We need to ensure the players and parents have a great experience at the event. Unfortunately, we could no longer guarantee this at Hull.“
It’s a pity that it’s come to this, and it seems that some organisations – like the EIHA – are now starting to look elsewhere for ice time. Other than the professional teams playing out of Hull, it’s unlikely that any of them can afford an increase in ice fees – with no other rinks close by there are a lot of teams who could end up dissolving.
As someone whose closest rink (at the moment) is Sheffield, I’m personally pleased about the relocation of the EIHA Conference Tournament moving there. I love IceSheffield, and from a personal point of view, far prefer it to Hull Arena. We have a strong hockey following in Sheffield, many of whom I hope will take the time to watch the Tournament, when they may not have done with it being in Hull.
However, as a hockey fan who is painfully aware of the lack of ice rinks in this country, it saddens me that the arena is gaining such a negative reputation and is losing something as big as the Tournament. And as someone with a vested interest in one of the teams currently playing out of the arena (Kingston Kestrels Sledge Hockey Team), it bothers me that we may not have a home there for the long term.
As always, these are simply opinions. I’m not privy to any insider knowledge, and have no personal connections to either IceSheffield or Hull Arena. If you’d like to discuss this further, feel free to comment here or come and chat to me on Twitter @CarolinaKaniac.