The Henderson Silver Knights unveiled their jerseys Monday. On Tuesday, they gained a home.
Lifeguard Arena, the American Hockey League team’s practice facility, officially opened its doors to the public Tuesday morning. The 120,500-square-foot building accomplishes a number of goals for the team and city.
It should give the Silver Knights one of the AHL’s best facilities. It will allow the Golden Knights to keep expanding their youth programs. And it should give Water Street in Henderson a huge boost as the city tries to revive the surrounding district.
“As far as NHL standards, it’s right there,” Silver Knights coach Manny Viveiros said of the $26 million building. “Our facility, our dressing room for the players, medical room, coaches’ room, video room, it’s all on par with NHL standards.”
In large part, Lifeguard Arena is similar to the Knights’ practice facility in Summerlin, City National Arena. Both have two ice sheets with stands for fans. Both have a team store. And both have a McKenzie River Pizza restaurant, plus a separate coffee shop.
But Lifeguard Arena still comes with its own bells and whistles. There is extra meeting space for private events. There is a large outdoor plaza still under construction that will feature a 46-foot video screen.
There are also other subtle changes based on what the Knights learned from operating City National Arena for three years, like making the seating areas slightly different.
“The great thing is, we knew what worked well at that facility, and maybe there’s tweaks that we can make it better,” Knights president Kerry Bubolz said. “That’s really what we tried to do.”
Lifeguard Arena should be beneficial to the Knights’ youth programs, giving them two more ice sheets and a new location to increase their reach. Bubolz estimated that 30 percent of the participants in the team’s current programming at City National Arena in Summerlin is from Henderson.
He’s hoping more Henderson residents will participate once practices don’t require a lengthy commute.
“I always think about how many kids and families, because of that travel time, just couldn’t come over and participate,” Bubolz said. “That’s the part I’m really excited about, because now we can really serve this community.”
Lifeguard Arena also could serve as a beacon as the city tries to encourage investment in downtown Henderson. For years, the city has worked to transform Water Street into more of an entertainment hub, and now it has a key piece of that vision locked into place.
“This is a game-changer for Water Street,” Henderson mayor Debra March said. “Not only are we seeing a huge economic investment in the area because of this facility, this facility will bring a lot of activities and programming to families.”
Lifeguard Arena also should help develop future Golden Knights. The building proves that Knights owner Bill Foley is living up to his promise of not treating the Silver Knights as “stepchildren.” It will provide players with plenty of resources as they work to make the jump to the NHL.
“The bottom line is to give the players playing here in Henderson every possible resource to succeed,” Viveiros said. “You can see what they’ve done here. It’s magnificent. And if you talk to any of the players, they’re so excited that they possibly might be here and have a place to come to work every day.”