Sadowski Center officially open

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Center serves as multipurpose facility

Gold Standard Off Duty Editor
Fort Knox residents and children eagerly awaited the chance to skate at Fort Knox’s new roller skating rink June 13.
Sadowski Center reopened with a ribbon cutting ceremony featuring remarks by Col. Bruce Jenkins, the Fort Knox garrison commander, and Maj. Gen. Jeff Smith, the commander of Cadet Command and Fort Knox. The 2013 Fort Knox Youth of the Year Rashan Allen cut the ribbon alongside the rest of the official party. Following the ceremony, visitors enjoyed free skating, pizza and soda, games, prizes and a meet and greet with the Derby City Rollergirls.
“Today really is a historic day on Fort Knox,” Jenkins said. “This is another first. Not only is it a first for Fort Knox, but really it’s a first for the United States Army.”
Sadowski Center is one of only a few roller skating rinks found on installations, said Melinda Stickle, the chief of the Fort Knox Family, and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, business division.
“The need for a skating rink, a recreation facility for youth and specifically skating, has shown up in our leisure needs survey for years,” Stickle said. “We have just never had the money or the facility to turn something into a roller rink.”
Before the renovation, Sadowski Center was Sadowski Field House. It served as a facility for athletics and large-scale events, such as concerts and ceremonies. The building was built in 1943 and is named after Sgt Joseph J. Sadowski of the 37th Tank Battalion, 4th Armored Division, who received the Medal of Honor for his heroism displayed during World War II.
“What you’re looking at here is really 70 years of history,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins said the old building did not age well and became uncomfortable to use in the summer because it was too hot, or in the winter because it was too cold. The building was eventually slated for demolition.
“We didn’t want to do that because, again, the history of this building demanded us to do something to make it a building we could use for the future,” Jenkins said.
Instead of tearing down the building, Jenkins challenged a team to come up with the best use for the field house. The team decided on a multipurpose facility that would include space for sports and ceremonies. However, the cost for the renovation was $3 million, money that was not available in the garrison or installation budgets, Jenkins said.
Fortunately, the team found stimulus money that had been set aside on a first come, first serve basis for an installation with a plan, and the team received the money for the new Sadowski Center, Jenkins said.
“It really did bring together a great facility,” Smith said. “I have been supervising this directly for the last year to make sure that we come true on our promise, and I think you’ll be really satisfied when you get inside and see what used to be a Quonset hut, (now) a state-of-the-art facility.”
The new facility offers space for various ceremonies, rental packages for private parties, space for sports including basketball, volleyball and archery, and, of course, roller skating. Sadowski Center is open to the public.
“I think that it’s gonna be another place for Soldiers and Families to gather and recreate, and not have to leave the installation,” Stickle said. “It’s just 100 times better than it was.”