RELATED: Blues begin training camp with 58 players | Printable Roster
MARYLAND HEIGHTS - On one wall of the new Centene Community Ice Center in Maryland Heights, a mural shows a series of iconic photos of St. Louis Blues players celebrating with the Stanley Cup alongside oversized letters that read "HISTORY MADE."
On Friday, the Blues made history again by stepping onto the ice at the new 277,000 square-foot practice facility.
"It's been an exceptional day, and really quite emotional as well, to see this rink open for the first day of training camp," Blues President and CEO Chris Zimmerman told stlouisblues.com. "We opened to the public last week, but we still had a lot of work to do this week, including in the Blues' locker room and training areas. It's been a massive push (to make this happen)."
"I think the rink is fantastic. It's definitely state of the art," added Blues forward Alexander Steen, who was getting his first look at the new facility Friday. "I was pleasantly surprised. I knew it wasn't quite ready yet [while still under construction] but it's much further along than I thought it was. You can see the potential here. It's something St. Louis has needed for quite some time, and it's pretty cool to be in it right now. It's great for the community and it will be fun to see more (hockey players) come out of St. Louis because of things like this."
Video: Fans attend practice, see new facility
The Centene Community Ice Center currently features three ice surfaces. A fourth rink, which will be under a pavillion outdoors, is under construction and is expected to open in November.
The new facility, which is located at 750 Casino Center Drive in Maryland Heights, will also serve Blues Alumni, Lindenwood University Hockey, the AAA Blues and the Lady Cyclones.
"They've done a good job. It's a nice place," Blues Head Coach Craig Berube said. "It's a great facility and the fans can come and watch. It's already a real good hockey town with youth hockey, and it's going to boost it even more."
The Blues began training camp Friday by holding three practice sessions, which were split up among two of the rinks at the facility. Practices were closed to the general public as the venue's staff prepares to host more than 2,500 Blues fans for training camp practice sessions this weekend. Tickets for the camp sessions are available at MetroTix.com for a $10 donation to Blues for Kids and will also be available at the door.
"(Saturday) is going to be incredible because for many of our fans, short of the parade or a trip to OB Clark's, this is the first time they're able to interact with the Stanley Cup champions," Zimmerman said. "With each day, the facility gets a little bit further along. A lot of those finishing touches are still being worked on, but we now have a showcase for hockey in St. Louis, and it's our good fortune that the opening of this facility has aligned with winning a Stanley Cup championship and the January NHL All-Star Game. What more fitting time for this building to open while the spotlight is still shining on the St. Louis Blues?"