MINSK – Dynamo Minsk already played its first games in the new Minsk Arena, but on Saturday the new multi-function complex was officially opened with the KHL All-Star Game. There were stars in attendance and a capacity crowd of 15,000.
Soviet legends Vladislav Tretiak and Vyacheslav Fetisov, as well as Canadian stars Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier were in Minsk when the country’s President Alexander Lukashenko hosted the opening.
“The opening of our state-of-art cultural and sports complex is a start of a new and a glorious page in the history of Belarusian sport as we have built a powerful bastion that will help us to gain victories on the international sport scene and will become a perfect take-off runway for future champions and stars,” Lukashenko said. “It will be a real forge of health and a beloved entertainment place. It will not only enrich the capital city, but will also add to the attractions of Belarus as a sport country. We will continue to build sport arenas despite the crisis to maintain the nations’ health and improve the living standard.”
The hockey arena is the center of a sports complex that includes a speed-skating rink, a velodrome and two practice rinks. The main arena has an eight-sided scoreboard with LED screens.
It was built using cutting-edge technology and is one of the biggest facilities in Europe. It can host 30 sports and will also have concerts and cultural events.
And in 2014 the arena will host Minsk's first IIHF World Championship.
The KHL leaders appreciated the magnificence of the arena and did not regret their decision to name Minsk the venue of the second All-Star Game. The game itself was played between a team full of import players plus Latvia’s Sandis Ozolins, called Team Jagr, that faced Team Yashin, which was purely Russian apart from Belarusian goalkeeper Andrei Mezin.
Just like last year on Red Square in Moscow, Jagr’s team won the game, 11-8.
The guests were impressed with the arena.
“The game was definitely a highlight of the season in the KHL, especially when it’s played at an arena like this. It’s a great facility,” Gretzky said while Yashin even called it a wonder, and Fetisov the best arena of the league.
“I’m very happy for Belarus. The rink will surely help Belarusian hockey and kids playing hockey will do their best to play here,” Jagr said.
A second arena in the Chizhovka district, about 18 kilometres from Minsk Arena at the other end of the city, is being built as the secondary venue of the 2014 IIHF World Championship and will act as a gateway to a promising project involving hotel and entertainment facilities. It will have two rinks with a capacity of 8,000 seats in the main arena.
Minsk will stage the World U18 Championship this year in Dynamo Minsk’s old arena. The 7,000-seat arena in Bobruisk, which was opened two years ago, will serve as the second venue.