Lack of communication causes rift with Alabama Hockey, Civic Complex

PELHAM – The relationship between the Pelham Civic Complex and Ice Arena and the Alabama Hockey program seems to be on shaky ground, according to a news release from Alabama Hockey on Jan. 1.

Alabama Hockey has an agreement with the Civic Complex to play all of the their home games at the complex, however the reconstruction of the main rink seems to be causing some scheduling problems. During the reconstruction phase, Alabama Hockey has been using the complex’s practice arena to host games.

The times for the team’s first four games of the spring semester have been changed from their originally scheduled times. The team opens the semester on Friday, Jan. 6, against the University of Oklahoma.

“This was not a decision made by the Alabama Hockey staff, but one made due to the fact the main arena will still be unavailable for use to start the second half of the season,” team president Jon Lovorn stated in the news release.

Lovorn apologized to Alabama Hockey patrons for any inconvenience the rescheduling may have caused and said the program is committed to providing the best experience possible for game attendees. Lovorn said he is “extremely disappointed” with the civic complex’s lack of communication regarding the reconstruction of the rink.

“I was told that the main rink was supposed to be up and running on Oct. 6, then Dec. 6, and now it holds an undetermined finish date,” Lovorn stated. “Although I will be the first to admit that I am no expert on reconstructing an ice surface and I understand that delays happen, I do believe better communication is warranted when dealing with circumstances of this nature.”

Contrary to Lovorn’s statement, the City Council and Tate discussed during a September work session that the goal was to have the arena up and running by mid-December, but the project isn’t expected to be complete until mid-January. Civic complex facilities administrator Danny Tate said the main rink is expected to be ready in time for Alabama’s game against Auburn on Jan. 20.

Tate said he hates that Alabama Hockey feels they’ve been mistreated because that was never the intent. Tate said the complex’s hockey director reached out to Alabama Hockey in October and December to discuss scheduling, but the hockey director never heard back from Alabama.

“To have the best scenario you have to communicate,” Tate said. “We knew we’d have issues with the main arena being back up by the beginning of January, and as soon as we realized that wasn’t going to happen we reached out to them.

“We want everybody to win as much as possible. We want everybody to be successful, but I need them to come and talk to me in a sensible manner instead of posting things online that are misleading.”

Tate said the Civic Complex still does not have a copy of Alabama Hockey’s practice schedule.

Because of rink rescheduling in the fall, the news release stated that the team was “forced to practice very late on weekday nights,” with some practices beginning as late as 10:30 p.m. and ending around 11:45 p.m. In addition, three of the program’s four home games in the fall suffered from unannounced delayed starts that team personnel were not informed of until they had already arrived at the rink, according to the release.

“Their games have been shifted,” Tate said. “A lot of things have been shifted. This is not limited to their program.”

Tate said the Civic Complex has had to cut back on the number of public skating sessions offered, and make changes to programs offered by the city, like the youth and men’s hockey leagues.

“The public has expectations,” Tate said. “This facility was built for the community and we have to have public skate sessions and accommodate city leagues and programs. It’s frustrating because we’re trying to be fair to UAB Hockey also.”

UAB Hockey also plays all of their home games at the Civic Complex.

“Of course the situation isn’t ideal, but things with UAB are going well because they communicate,” Tate said. “But they also don’t have as heavy of a schedule as Alabama does.”

Alabama’s Jan. 6 game was originally scheduled for 8 p.m., but has been moved to 9:15 p.m. with warm-ups beginning 30 minutes prior to the start of the game. Saturday’s Jan. 7 game was set to begin at 7 p.m., but will now start at 10:30 p.m. with warm-ups beginning at 10 p.m.

The Jan. 7 game will be the team’s latest home game of the season. Only the Midnight Madness game at Liberty University on Sept. 30 dropped the puck at a later time.

Liberty University returns the trip Jan. 13-14. Those games were scheduled for 8 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively. The Jan. 13 game is now set to begin at 9:30 p.m., and the Jan. 14 game won’t start until 10 p.m.

The Pelham Civic Complex is the only ice rink facility in the area that can accommodate Alabama and UAB hockey leagues.