The Dundalk Ice Dome could finally be set to re-open later this year with the help of Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.
The facility at Dundalk Retail Park has been lying idle since closing its doors in May 2010.
Now The Irish Ice Hockey Association claims it has raised enough money to fund the reopening of the rink.
According to a report in yesterday’s Sunday Times, the association is negotiating a lease of the facility with Dundalk Institute of Technology, which owns the space, and it is hoped that teams can take to the ice in September.
The money was raised after the Flying Ducks, an ice hockey team from Dundalk, visited Canada in 2017 and highlighted the fact that Ireland did not have a permanent rink.
While in Montreal the group met with Prime Minister Trudeau and told him about the need for ice hockey facilities in Ireland. He later raised the issue on a visit to Ireland.
Aaron Guli, the president of the Irish Ice Hockey Association (IIHA), said the attention from Canada had helped revive the prospect of a permanent rink. “People across the world consider Canada to be the ice hockey country of the world,” he said. “So anything you do with them or around them brings a lot of exposure.
“The Flying Ducks got an immense amount of exposure from that meeting with Trudeau and really boosted our relationship with Hockey Canada. It also brings exposure to us playing here, because people don’t even know we play in Ireland.”
Guli said the negotiations with Dundalk IT were ongoing and, because of private funding the association had received, he was cautiously optimistic they would succeed. “[Dundalk IT] have been accommodating with us,” he said. “We are just hashing out the details. This is the furthest anyone has been since the rink closed in 2010. If all goes to plan, we will be open in September.”
Trudeau spoke to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) on Thursday, during an item on the Flying Ducks.
He welcomed news that an ice rink could be close to reopening. “Having more Irish youth playing hockey and growing the game will enhance Canada and Ireland’s already deep relationship and strong people-to-people ties,” said the prime minister.
Dundalk IT confirmed the negotiations were taking place, and said it recognised that opening a rink in Ireland would attract Canadian students.