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RIA to celebrate opening of Cleary Sports Complex Saturday Jeremy Mayo Sports Editor

Snow or no snow, Saturday is going to be a big day for the Rhinelander Ice Association. 

The RIA will have activities all day in celebration of the grand opening of its new off-ice training center, which rink manager Brett Aylesworth confirmed to the River News will be named the "James E. Cleary Sports Complex - Home of the Hodag."

Aylesworth said the major donor for the project, who previously wished to remained anonymous, was the Cleary Foundation. The group donated $450,000 toward the new building that includes new locker rooms for the high school boys' and girls' hockey teams, an open activities area that will included four puck-shooting stations, a weight room, coaches' room, figure skating room and a warming room for the RIA's outdoor rink. 

"It's amazing to see that support for Rhinelander, for Rhinelander youth," Aylesworth told the River News Tuesday. "You don't always tangibly see it, but this is one way you finally do. You finally see a huge project put together with donors and it makes you feel good and makes you feel that being the home of the Hodag is all about." 

The open house of the new facility will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. RIA members and volunteers, along with project donors, builders and contractors will be on hand. 

It's part of a busy Saturday at the RIA. Youth hockey games begin at 8:15 a.m. and continue throughout the day. At 4:30 p.m., the RIA will hold its annual free holiday open skate in conjunction with its toy drive for Kindness for Kids. Those participating in the skate are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate, if they are able. 

"I hope people can come out and support the event," Aylesworth said. "Not only is it to showcase our facility, but it's also great to be able to show what our members and our high school teams can do with the Kindness for Kids event. It's a free open skate, but the past couple of year we've donated hundreds of toys to Kindness for Kids. I know they greatly appreciate it and, hopefully we can keep that momentum rolling forward." 

For more information on the event, call 715-369-1416, email or visit

Jeremy Mayo may be reached at

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