Soccer, basketball and hockey Huskie and Minor League athletes, with (l-r) Kohl Bauml, Bruce Bradshaw, Logan Hjelte, Lorne Wright, Mayor Charlie Clark, Ron Graham, Libby Epoch, President Peter Stoicheff, Merlis Belsher, Ken Cheveldayoff, Lawrence Rychjohn, Jack Van Norman and Gabriel Michael. Photo By Josh Schaefer/University of Saskatchewan/GetMyPhoto.ca
On April 28, a decades-long dream became a reality—the U of S started construction on Merlis Belsher Place, the replacement for 88-year old Rutherford Rink. Nearly 250 supporters, athletes, and community members turned up for the official groundbreaking ceremony to recognize the project’s many contributors and swift progress on the fundraising campaign.
Wright Construction will begin laying the foundation for the new multi-sport arena—located just south of the Saskatoon Field House—with piling work set to start in early May.
U of S President Peter Stoicheff noted the importance of the many community relationships which have facilitated progress on the project—including the City of Saskatoon, Saskatoon Minor Hockey Association and the campaign’s country-wide volunteer team.
“Developing strong partnerships has never been more important to us than it is today, and Merlis Belsher Place is a great example of the power and potential of these partnerships,” he said. “Thanks to our community’s diverse and generous support, I’m pleased this facility will make a real difference in the lives of our athletes and their families, and contribute to the health and economic impact of our city.”
Elder Fred Sasakamoose (left), with alumnus Sheldon Wuttunee, shared a traditional Cree blessing to honour the land before construction begins. Sasakamoose was the first Indigenous person ever to play in the NHL when he joined the Chicago Blackhawks in 1954. He said he was pleased that four of his grandchildren will have the opportunity to play in the new arena, thanks to the community focus of the project. Photo By Josh Schaefer/University of Saskatchewan/GetMyPhoto.ca