SUDBURY -- A new video board, hockey control room and brighter lights highlight about $1 million in upgrades to the GFL Memorial Gardens in Sault Ste. Marie.

The Soo Greyhounds and the City of Sault Ste. Marie took advantage of the halt in play seven months ago at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to get some work done on the facility on Queen Street.

"Collaboratively, the two groups have made the most upgrades in the history of the Home of the Hounds this off-season and they unveiled them to local media Tuesday morning," the hockey club said in a news release Tuesday.

In total, more than $1 million worth of enhancements were made inside the facility "to improve fan experience and user safety."

Highlighting the list of improvements is the installation of a new state-of-the-art video board that hangs above the Greyhounds’ logo at centre ice.

"The visually impressive display is comprised of four curved 6mm OES video screens complete with two 6mm OES video screen rings above and below the main display, along with four side digital panels," the club said. "The video display boasts almost two million LED pixels."

Secondary scoreboard

A secondary OES hockey scoreboard was added in the northeast corner of the arena, new goal lights, and updated cameras were part of the package to ensure every hockey moment is captured.

OES (based out of London) also designed and installed a new hockey control room, complete with content management software and integrated replay system.

The full purchase price and costs of installation of the videoboard and subsequent components (just more than $600,000) was funded entirely by the Greyhounds "as a way to give back to the best fans in the Ontario Hockey League and to provide more and better sponsorship opportunities for our corporate partners," the club said.

Along with the videoboard, fans walking inside the building will notice all of the lighting around the perimeter and above the ice surface of the Gardens has been upgraded.

The city replaced the original lighting with new, LED high bay fixtures. Moving to LED lighting will promote energy conservation and improve lighting conditions to help meet user group lighting standards.

The project also included a lighting control system that will improve the flexibility of facility lighting and accommodate different uses.

Boards and glass upgrades

At ice level, the city procured Athletica Sport Systems to upgrade the board and glass system of the facility.

The Ontario Hockey League has adopted a policy requiring facilities to upgrade to a National Hockey League approved board and glass system by the 2021 season.

"The City of Sault Ste. Marie continues to demonstrate its ongoing commitment to player and spectator safety by completing this initiative by the beginning of the 2020-21 season," the club said.

That new system has cutting-edge technology, featuring:

- Soft Cap on top of the boards that absorb 96 per cent more force than standard systems.

- Acrylic shielding with one-of-a-kind impact-absorbing design.

- Shielding and board systems flex upon impact easing strain on player’s bodies.

- Curved acrylic on ends of the benches.