Reporting John Shumway
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – UPMC and the Pittsburgh Penguins are joining forces to build a “first of its kind” hockey sports performance center.
If all goes as planned, the facility will be the hockey version of the sports medicine complex UPMC shares with the Pittsburgh Steelers on the South Side.
But there’s a long way to go before pucks are flying on the two ice rinks planned for the joint venture in Cranberry Township.
CONSOL Energy Center will always be the home of the Penguins for games and for practice, but other events sometimes get in the way.
“There just are times during the year because you have other events here when you don’t have ice here, so you have to practice somewhere else,” said Tom McMillan, the Pittsburgh Penguins Vice President of Communications.
In the future, that somewhere may be where bulldozers were crawling Wednesday in Cranberry.
“So, we’ll practice there when we don’t have ice here; we’ll have training camp there; we’ll do development camp,” said McMillan.
But what the Pens and UPMC are planning next to Westinghouse, with Cranberry’s approval, is far from just a practice rink.
“This is going to be, not all hockey, but really hockey-specific, that kind of training and that kind of rehab for those kinds of injuries,” McMillan said.
Like the South Side, the Cranberry Sports Performance Center will have rehab and training facilities, plus two ice rinks.
“You could be going through rehab at UPMC, while the Penguins are practicing on one rink, and there’s an open skate on the other rink,” saod Albert Wright, UPMC Vice President of Operations. “All going on at once.”
Not to mention youth hockey leagues in a region that the Penguins say need more available ice time. As you might guess, this expected to be a big draw.
“Estimated at about 400,000 visitors a year,” Wright said.
If all goes well with the details, UPMC would like to begin construction later this year or early next with the doors opening to the facility in the summer of 2014.