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Thursday, January 15, 2015
Banners for all 10 NA3EHL teams hang in the Heinrich Rink portion of the Cornerstone CFCU Arena. A 15-game, three-day showcase will be played between the 10 teams this weekend. (PHOTOS BY SCOTT LEFFLER / ENP STAFF)


Arena staff undergoes last-minute training today. In the foreground are 
new picnic-style tables for attendees to sit at while enjoying food from the
concession stand, which is expected to be opened in time for the showcase.
With less than 24 hours to go before the first puck drops on a three-day 15-game NA3EHL hockey showcase, construction workers at Cornerstone Community Federal Credit Union Arena continue to work at a fever pitch to ready as much as possible for the weekend.

Workers had expected to have the arena's main entrance, the south west "tower" entrance open today but as of this afternoon, were still working on its preparation. Both signs have been installed on the tower, however, and were illuminated for the first time this week.

Workers were also busy this afternoon attempting to put together the concession stand in the arena's main downstairs lobby, as well as the arena's pro-shop. Employees said they hoped to have the pro-shop facilities at least somewhat complete before Friday's first game.

The stands in the Heinrich Rink are empty now, but as many as 1,500
people are expected in the arena for the showcase.
Cornerstone Arena employees were seen undergoing last-minute training this afternoon and the city's building inspector, Jason Dool, was seen eyeing his way around the arena.

Employees at the rink said they expected construction to continue through the early morning hours, ahead of the three-day showcase.

Lockport Mayor Anne McCaffrey expressed her excitement this afternoon about the weekend tournament.

"We are thrilled to host 10 teams ... to spend their weekend in Lockport," she said. "We're expecting probably 1,500 people in the city this weekend that wouldn't be here otherwise."

With 1,500 people in the city and an arena that holds only 630 spectators, that means nearly 1,000 people at any given time will be out in the Lockport area looking for something to eat, drink or do.

The Lockport Express has the advantage of having its own locker room.
The hotels are ready: Best Western Lockport says it is fully booked Friday but does have rooms available Saturday and Sunday. Comfort Inn has booked some rooms due to the tournament but still has rooms available all three days this weekend, as does Lockport Inn & Suites.

The bars and restaurants are ready: Parker Greenman, owner of Papa Leo's on Main Street said, "We expect to see a nice pickup of drop-in traffic due to the three-day event." Kim Milani at Sub Delicious has similar plans. Meanwhile, Jon George, owner of 21st Amendment at Main and Locust streets, said his bar was taking a wait-and-see approach before he increases staffing.

And other area businesses are getting in on the act, too. Lockport's Historic Palace Theatre is planning a free hockey-themed movie on Saturday. The theater will show the original Mighty Ducks at 1 p.m.

The city itself, is following George's example. Streets crews and the Lockport Police Department are staffed at normal levels but accommodations can be made if need be, McCaffrey said.

The mayor noted that this weekend's tournament — the first in 30 years in the city — is just the first of many to come.

"We have a lot to be excited about," she said.

RELATED: Win free tickets for this weekend's tournament, as well as the rest of the Lockport Express 2014-2015 season home games.

The main rink as seen from the upstairs lobby. Arena personnel hope the southwest "tower" entrance will be open in time for the showcase.

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