If you aren’t a regular at MK Lightning matches then you might have passed by the Leisure Plaza area of Milton Keynes and wondered why it’s now a building site – well fear not, the town is NOT losing its ice rink, infact from summer 2014 it’ll be better than ever, quite literally the cornerstone of a redeveloped Leisure Plaza – one of the best rinks in the country.
The Leisure Plaza, comprising the Planet Ice-owned rink, a bowling alley, disused nightclub and former sports bar, had been largely unchanged in around two decades. However in 2013 the whole site was acquired for redevelopment, to include the construction of a supermarket and new retail units. But most importantly the redeveloped site is guaranteed to include a refurbished ice rink, securing the future of ice hockey in Milton Keynes for hopefully another two decades at least.
MK Lightning brought down the curtain on the current era of the rink as it was in April 2013, with a play-off quarter-final aggregate win over Slough Jets to guarantee their appearance in the prestigious English Premier League Play Off Finals weekend at the Coventry Skydome Arena. An emotional evening with over 1,000 passionate supporters in attendance gave players and supporters alike an evening to remember, signing off on a high at ‘the Thunderdome’.
The early summer saw the announcement that the team will play home games for the 2013 -14 season at the Coventry Skydome Arena, with developers confident the entire site will be ready for the beginning of the 2014 season – with the hope that the inaugural fixture will be the delayed all-star testimonial game for the Lightning’s captain, Adam Carr.
Builders moved onto the Leisure Plaza site in early summer 2013 and within weeks, all that was left of the site was the portion of the main complex housing the rink – the disused former ‘Empire’ nightclub and bowling alley demolished to make way for new infrastructure, the physical signs of an exciting new era for ice hockey and recreational skating in Milton Keynes now unmistakable. For this season, a group of ice users and volunteers in Milton Keynes have worked tirelessly to successfully secure the site of the former Waitrose supermarket in the town centre, secured the funding for and construction of a temporary rink, ensuring that ice time continues to be available in MK whilst Lightning play home games in Coventry with the help and support of Planet Ice, until the new facility opens in summer 2014.
Periodic photo updates are posted on the Lightning’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/MiltonKeynesLightning - keep checking back there and on the club’s website www.mk-lightning.com for further project updates!