It was on the 17th December 1910 that the first ever ice hockey game was played in Manchester. It took place at the Ice Palace in Cheetham Hill Manchester … the largest rink in Britain and the second largest in Europe. It would be another 85 years before the Manchester Storm were born … a team that would play out of the largest indoor arena in Europe.
(The book “The Puck Chasers of Manchester” by Adam Smith tells the Story of the Manchester Rapids from 1910 onwards)
Manchester had long wanted to host the Olympic Games, and to impress the Olympic Committee a range of facilities were built in readiness for the day the games were awarded to the City. Sadly that day never came … although the facilities were used for the Commonwealth Games of 2002. The Manchester Arena was built at a cost of fifty six million pounds in the centre of the city. As a venue it was capable of hosting any indoor event – but for Ice Hockey purposes it can seat 17,245 people. At its launch the building was sponsored by a telecoms company and became known and loved as “The Nynex”, a name that stuck long after that company ceased to be and another sponsor took over
Before the building was complete serious talks were underway into how ice hockey could be played at the Arena. At one stage it looked like a team playing in a European division of the IHL could make the arena their home. This proposal got no further than a fairly small press conference in a Manchester hotel! Finally, Ogden Entertainment Services, who had been awarded the contract to manage the day to day running of the Arena, decided that they would run the hockey team themselves. Lee A. Esckilsen was the first Executive Director of the Arena …. and the Storm’s first General Manager.
The Arena opened in July 1995 and Hockey would arrive back in the city in September of that year.