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1980 Olympic arena marks construction anniversary

May 11, 2017
By ANTONIO OLIVERO - Staff Writer (aolivero@adirondackdailyenterprise.com) , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - A slideshow of vintage photos, some of which have never before been seen publicly, flashed on the new Herb Brooks Arena scoreboard Monday morning, May 8. They were relics from the late 1970s, moments in time captured of Lake Placid breaking ground and building up for its most important piece of history: the 1980 Olympics.

Forty years ago in the spring of 1977, the renovation and construction of the Olympic Center began. It was one of 14 projects undertaken in advance of the Olympic games by Gilbane Building Company. Monday morning, village and Olympic officials welcomed Gilbane back to celebrate their part in Lake Placid's history.

"That could not have been accomplished without the very capable skills and the work that Gilbane Building Company put into Lake Placid in many different facets that they were challenged to do," Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall said at the Olympic Center Monday. "And also the skills of so many people, to deal with all of those facets because it wasn't just a simple building, they had to reconstruct it.

Article Photos

During a 40th anniversary ceremony Monday, May 8, the scoreboard at the Herb Brooks Arena in the Olympic Center showed slides of the groundbreaking ceremony and construction of the fieldhouse, which began in the spring of 1977 and was complete by the Olympic Winter Games in 1980. Officials from the state Olympic Regional Development Authority, town of North Elba, village of Lake Placid, Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism and Gilbane Building Company were on hand for the celebration.
(News photo — Antonio Olivero)

"The impact of the 1980 Winter Olympic Games on Lake Placid speaks for itself," Randall continued. "We are here today - we might not be, if it weren't for them. We wouldn't be in this facility, because it hadn't been built. So when we look at what's occurred in Lake Placid since, we have grown.

"Our lodging facilities have grown. We have world-recognized lodging facilities in Lake Placid. We have a very strong residential market for families who invest in Lake Placid because they believe Lake Placid is a great investment."

Randall was a part of the village's banking committee leading up to the 1980 games. Fellow local elected official Jay Rand, a 1968 Winter Olympian and a current North Elba town councilman, was one of the first skiers to test out the newly built jumps in advance of the 1980 games. He shared his recollection of the maiden runs he and fellow Lake Placid olympian Joe Lamb took down what were then new ski jump towers and also spoke of seeing the construction of what looked like a roller coaster track take place.

"It was incredible," Rand said. "There was a jacking system that continuously, night and day pours - it couldn't stop. And when they got that finished there was tubular steel trucked in here from Montreal. And it was put together right there on the site and they had two cranes that lifted the structure into place, and it fit - you know how tough it is to cut a (2-foot-by-4-foot board) and make it fit into a spot. The (construction worker), I can still recall - I was right up there watching - he had a cigarette in his mouth and was swinging the controls and bam, put that into place, they put the bolts through and that was that.

"It was a great time."

 
 

 

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