MASON CITY, Iowa - The hole has been dug, the ice has been made, and the paint brushed on.
Since February, crews have been hard at work constructing the new arena at Southbridge Mall, and soon, it will be ready for hockey. But before the Mohawks and the North Iowa Bulls take to the ice, two North Iowa hockey icons held the first skate.
Ron Hanna started the Mohawk Youth Hockey Club in 1973, back when it was played outdoors, before moving into the North Iowa Ice Arena upon its completion in 1983.
"It's a culmination of 40 years of skating I've done. Unfortunately, I've been off skates for 3 years, so I'm getting my legs back," Hanna says.
"We were here at the groundbreaking and now we'll be here for the ribbon cutting. It's exciting."
John Lloyd is the longtime coach of club, as well as the manager of the 'old barn.' They had to put a finishing touch, of sorts, by bringing some of the ice from the longtime home of club over to the new.
"We wanted to make it a little part of that ice in this arena," Lloyd says.
Both are looking back on nearly 37 years at the North Iowa Recreational Arena.
"There are a lot of memories at that rink," Hanna adds.
They've been following the progress on the arena from the very beginning, and they're both impressed.
"Anytime the Bulls play in here and the high school play in here, it's a pretty impressive place. There's no better place in Iowa at least that compares to this place."
They're hopeful that the new arena could get more kids to lace up their skates and hit the ice, and more fans will come to games.
"This is an experience now. You got better parking, better than the bog out there. So people I think will be encouraged to come on down," Hanna says.
New arena manager Lucas Hartgrove was also at the first skate, and is looking forward to the arena officially opening.
"I know John's been out there at the barn for however many years. For me, this is my new gig, so it was kind of a passing of the torch in a sense."
A public ribbon cutting for the new arena will be held at 10 a.m. Friday morning at the South entrance.
The final home game for the Mohawks at the old barn is this Saturday, with their first game at the new arena on January 18th. The North Iowa Bulls' first game will be December 28th.