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Arenas renamed after formative figures in Calgary hockey

Arenas at the Max Bell Centre and the Village Square Leisure Centre have new names, honouring a pair of long-time sport and hockey leaders in Calgary.

The Perry Cavanagh and Wally Kozak Arenas were officially given their new names on Oct. 15 during ceremonies held by the City of Calgary and Hockey Calgary.

Speaking at the Max Bell Centre on Saturday, Kevin Kobelka, Executive Director for Hockey Calgary called the renaming of the former Arena 2 a natural thing.

“Perry has been such a long time great volunteer and has done so much in this city, and probably most importantly, he was the architect of building Max Bell Arena 2,” Kobelka said.

Kobelka said that the renaming reflected Cavanagh’s history of growing inclusivity in the sport, and providing opportunities to all kids in hockey regardless of whether they were a grassroots player or an elite prospect.

“He was about providing a place for the kids to play, and he looked at the rink as a community,” Kobelka said.

“It was a place for kids to come and get off the streets and have a community, and a home, and a safe place to play and have fun.”

The City of Calgary originally announced that the two arenas would be renamed earlier this year, but waited until the completion of a $14 million upgrade to the Max Bell Centre.

“We’re proud to add Perry Cavanagh and Wally Kozak to a list of significant sport and community leaders whose names adorn our arenas,” said Calgary Recreation Director Heather Johnson in March of this year.

Cavanagh previously worked as the President of the Minor Hockey Association of Calgary, was on the board of directors for Hockey Calgary, and was the Chairperson for the Sport Calgary board.

Kozvak worked as a physical education teacher in the city’s northeast, and as a technical advisor to Girls Hockey Calgary. He is also known internationally for helping to establish the Women’s National Team program.

Honours incredible for honourees

For his part, Cavanagh called the honour an an incredible one.

“I tell you, I was just out of my head it was unbelievable,” he said.

Kozak called the naming of the Village Square arena one that was humbling.

“That facility provided an opportunity to learn how to teach and coach and continually serve the ‘good of the game’.”

Steve Cavanagh spoke on behalf of the family during the presentation of the bronze plaque that now adorns his father’s namesake arena.

“My father exemplifies what it means to be someone who does everything they can in their power to provide access to and improve the quality of sport in our communities,” he said.

“As a family, we’re beyond proud of what he’s achieved for sport in our city, and he’s always said from day one that it’s for the kids. Selfishly, I have to admit that I can’t wait to one day bring my son to the arena to play on grandpa’s rink.”

Ward 9 Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra spoke about the need to be inclusive in sport.

“We are so diverse in the city and it’s incredible and I thank Perry for not being the gatekeeper but for opening the door wide open for all Calgarians and I thank you so much,” he said.