WINNIPEG – A Jets cave was a childhood dream that recently became a reality for Kyle Calder.
The sports fan grew up watching hockey with his parents, collecting everything related to the team for years.
“I had a lot of imagination then,” said Calder, who was devastated when the Jets left Winnipeg in 1996, fearing the cave may never happen.
“As soon as I found out the rumours, that we might get a team back… merchandise started coming out and I just kept accumulating,” he said.
From the time the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg as Jets 2.0 in 2011, Calder and his girlfriend Stefanie Sobieski went to as many events and games as they could.
“Hockey wasn’t my sport but he definitely really dragged me into it with the Jets and made me feel the passion that he feels,” Sobieski said.
When looking for their first home this year in Cloverleaf, Calder and Sobieski knew a large basement was necessary for the cave.
“I grabbed all my measurements and then just started doodling and coming up with a rough design,” Calder said.
PHOTO GALLERY: Behind the scenes of the Jets Cave with photographer Gage Fletcher
The couple got to work right away so they could complete the project in six months before the NHL season started.
“We did the ceiling first so it’s the same as the arm band on the jerseys,” Calder said.
“Then we started spraying the floor so there was four coats of grey and six coats of white and then taped off lines to do all of the different zones.”
He also added a jumbotron and game buzzers that go off every time a goal is scored on television, along with hockey sticks outlining the windows.
Construction is still underway though, with expansions coming to the “mini MTS Centre” which has cost about $2,000 so far.
The couple plans to add a shooting gallery, bathrooms and a concession stand in the coming months.
“That was kind of the idea when we bought the house, we’re probably not going to go to as many Jets games so might as well bring the MTS Centre right here,” Calder said.
After seeing the cave, friends and family members continue giving Sobieski more Jets memorabilia to add.
“People were just amazed at the progress… and want to contribute,” she said. “It just shows our passion for the team and it just shows how much we love our Jets.”
The Manitobans hope their cave will motivate other fans to show their passion for the Jets.
“I want this to be seen as much as possible so that other people can get inspiration and the imagination from this to build their own kind of thing,” Calder said.
PHOTO GALLERY: Jets Cave memorabilia close up