The first-ever fully accessible venue for Para ice hockey players in Europe's Baltic region will open next year, marking another step forward for winter athletes in the area.
The ice rink is being built in Latvia’s capital city of Riga on the grounds of Daugava Stadium, which was previously the site of Latvia’s first-ever ice hockey arena.
It is being constructed with the help of the Latvian government and funding from the European Union. The arena will feature two ice rinks, including one specially designed for Para ice hockey.
“We are fortunate to have the Latvian Ice Hockey Federation’s management, experts and construction company on our side, so to speak,” said Mareks Matisons, the Secretary General of Latvia’s Para Ice Hockey Federation.
“In the future [mid-2021], we will be able to practice Para ice hockey on a proper ice, in proper team zones and penalty areas with a required transparent and low entry boards, accessible locker rooms, and more,” Matisons added.
Latvia, a 2018 recipient of a grant from the IPC’s Agitos Foundation to facilitate the growth of Para ice hockey, has a goal of fielding a Para ice hockey team for the Milano Cortina 2026 Paralympic Winter Games, and having an accessible rink is another step forward in the right direction.
The arena is also in close proximity to Estonia, which last fielded a team at the World Championships in 2012 and still has players looking for places to compete.
The city of Riga will have a chance to test the new venue when it co-hosts the IIHF World Championships in 2021.