Brenda Sawatzky

Nighthawks Celebrate Opening of The Kettle

Brenda Sawatzky

What do you get when you bring together a group of nighthawks? A kettle. And that’s what the fans and organizers of the Niverville Nighthawks gathered to celebrate just prior to game time on February 16.

The aptly named Kettle is a brand-new gathering space at the CRRC where fans can gather before, during, and after games.

The initial unveiling and ribbon-cutting took place last Friday with MP Ted Falk, Niverville mayor Myron Dyck, Nighthawks president, vice president, and board members there to commemorate the occasion.

The addition of The Kettle adds an extra 291 seats to the arena’s overall capacity. Located at the northeast corner, The Kettle boasts a full bar offering cocktails, mixed drinks, Nighthawks lager, and a variety of products from Torque Brewing.

The bar-style seating around tables provides a different way to take in a game night, and the new mezzanine rises high above the bar area, giving fans the best possible vantage point of the ice without losing the bar-like atmosphere.

From day one, plans were made to add more seating to the arena. In order to secure an MJHL team at all, Nighthawks organizers had to promise an eventual seating capacity of 1,000. The existing seating at the time came to 600 seats on the west side of the rink.

“Just talking with the guys, we were trying to create a unique place that can be used year-round,” says Bryan Trottier, the Nighthawks’ director of team special projects. “I was looking for a place where people could go when their kids were in bed or they were done work for the day. They’d be like, ‘The Kettle will be open. Someone will be there.’ Kind of like the old Cheers.”

Further to that, Trottier imagines The Kettle being a unique onsite feature when tournaments, concerts, or special events are held anywhere in the vicinity of the CRRC.

Trottier and his board applied for a government grant for the upgraded seating area in January 2022. Just two years later, their dream has been realized.

But it didn’t happen without some hiccups along the way.

Thanks to two years of pandemic, which brought on supply chain issues, inflation, and rapidly rising trade costs, the grant didn’t stretch as far as they needed. This meant that the completed project had to be smaller in scale than originally hoped. Plans for the original project included a mezzanine that would have stretched along the entire east side.

At this stage, Trottier is unsure whether the remainder of the east side seating will happen anytime soon.

“Right now we have lots of asks from other areas, too,” says Trottier. “We still need a dressing room for the players. Currently they’re in an ATCO trailer.”

Despite the project being scaled back, it still brought smiles to a lot of faces on opening night. According to Trottier, The Kettle was full to capacity during the February 16 game and fans stayed afterward to socialize over drinks long after the game ended.

“Friday night was a good example of how it could look and how we’d dreamed it would look,” says Trottier. “It was a pretty fun atmosphere.”