The need for modernization
In 2014, Town Meeting appropriated funds to undertake formal Design Development Master Plans addressing the following major issues at the arena:
- Inappropriate gender and age separation in locker room, shower, and toilet facilities
- Deficient handicapped accessibility and other building code deficiencies throughout the facility
- Undersized locker rooms and public use spaces
- Public safety hazards associated with the asbestos panels and lead paint in the arena end-walls
- Energy efficiency upgrades to original 1963 equipment
- Restoration of the concrete roof support beam buttresses
The Loring Arena Legacy Foundation, in partnership with the Framingham Division of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, have worked to modernize the rink while maintaining the nostalgia that is associated with one of the oldest skating barns in the state. Loring Arena is as strong as the first day it opened because of the efforts of the Framingham Parks & Recreation and rink staff. Unfortunately, its amenities and locker rooms remain the standard that was fitting in 1963.
Loring Arena currently has 4 locker rooms; we are in need of at least 2 more locker rooms and additional community spaces to help with gender separation and to support all programming use at the rink. In 1963, there were no female hockey teams in the area. In 2013, the beginners program enrolled 200+ players, 45 of them are girls. Today, most single sheet arenas have at least 7 or 8 locker rooms.
Currently Loring Arena is non-compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regarding handicapped access. In fact, the only element at Loring which is handicap friendly is the parking lot outside. A guest in a wheelchair is only able to view the game from only one or two spots with a low vantage point. Handicapped accessibility and ADA compliance is incorporated into the entire design plan, including accessible walkways and parking, automatic entrance doors, accessible public restroom facilities, accessible community use rooms, and an elevator to dedicated spectator areas with access to concessions.
Often times there aren’t locker rooms available for the Beginner program as locker rooms may be occupied for teams because of the rink’s full schedule. This leads to safety issues with young children and adults getting dressed in the steep cement stands and outside in the building eaves. The inadequate size, quantity, and configuration of locker rooms and public use spaces create this overcrowding problem.
Although recent investments have provided both short and long-term stabilization to the arena infrastructure and operations, the deficiencies associated with the 1963 design, as well as some Capital Improvement Projects, are being addressed. The asbestos panels and lead painted metal framework construction of the current arena end walls; repair of the concrete buttresses that support the arched roof beams; and energy efficiency upgrades including replacement of the original 1963 boiler are all part of the plan.
Design plans also include a modern concession stand and a climate controlled seating area. These amenities will make for an enjoyable experience for children of all ages. Grandparents can comfortably take in an ice performance and share the pride and excitement that we all come to love. Our goals are as ambitious as the generation of Framingham citizens who built Loring Arena a half century ago. It was an important cause then; it’s an important cause now.
Video Courtesy of Casey Diana