Friday, March 24, 2017 | 2 a.m.
It looks like any other construction site near Downtown Summerlin — workers in hard hats, cranes and other utility vehicles, and plenty of incomplete building framework.
But in five months it will be the Vegas Golden Knights’ 146,000-square-foot hockey fortress, a place so impressive and modern that it instantly gives the expansion franchise a better facility than most of the league’s other clubs.
“People will be very excited when they get here and it will be well worth the wait,” said Golden Knights’ senior vice president Murray Craven, who has overseen the construction from the start.
The Golden Knights will need to make a quick impression on free agents if they want to reel in top talent to form a competitive team. A $25-$30 million practice facility, as well as the game day home of T-Mobile Arena on the Strip, will play a huge role, officials believe.
“It’s no different than what the NCAA football teams and what the colleges do,” Craven said. “They build up their facilities to entice players when they recruit. In a way, the NHL is starting to go in that direction, too.”
A players’ lounge will have a breakfast and lunch buffet prepared by an in-house chef, who will work closely with Jay Mellette, director of sports performance and head athletic trainer, to monitor the players’ diets and adjust accordingly. The lounge includes couches and recliners, video games and flat screen televisions.
“It’s kind of a secondary home for them, especially for the single guys,” Craven said. “The married guys go home and have a family, but the single guys go home to an empty apartment or house. Those guys will hang out here. They’ll have the ping-pong table or video games or whatever 20-year-old guys do these days.”
One wall of the team locker room will be covered with murals of the Golden Knights’ primary and alternate logos, and the other three will house the 27 player lockers. Adjacent to the locker rooms are the showers, sauna and steam room. There are also massive hot and cold tubs and the massage room with a full-time team masseuse.
Two standard hockey rinks take up the east half of the building. Each will be equipped with stands to seat 450 people for recreational youth and adult hockey leagues. The building also has 10 public locker rooms, including one for women and one specifically for the UNLV hockey team, which will play its home games there.
Towering above, and right between, the two hockey rinks will be a 9,000-square-foot restaurant with a center bar. Golden Knights’ practices will be open to the public so fans will be able to sit and have a slice of pizza or a drink while they peer down on their city’s first major professional team hard at work.
Also for the fans, the facility will have a 4,000-square-foot pro shop with every type of hockey equipment or Golden Knights merchandise imaginable. The public entrance will look familiar — made with the same metallic design as T-Mobile Arena.
The second floor will also be the home of 20,000 square feet of office space for team executives like owner Bill Foley and General Manager George McPhee, as well as the ticketing department.
Directly above the players' locker room will sit the largest gym in the entire NHL — a sprawling 6,500 square feet of weights, equipment and a running track that overlooks the hockey rinks and Downtown Summerlin.
“We want to encourage them to live close to the practice facility,” Craven said. “You can live very comfortably within 10 minutes of here and that’s our goal. They’re going to be here the majority of the time anyway. We would rather have them here than other places in Las Vegas that aren’t as friendly to an athlete as our facilities.”
Craven played 18 years in the NHL for six organizations. He’s seen it all when it comes to the league, but says he’s never seen anything like what the Golden Knights will be calling home.
“There’s no way anyone could have conceived something like this,” Craven said. “You wouldn’t have even dreamed about it.”