The Community REC Center in Marinette will be opening soon and we encourage area residents to take advantage the next few days and get a glimpse of this wonderful structure.

We expect it to be an incredible asset to our area.

An invitation-only Business After Hours event for Marinette Menominee Area Chamber of Commerce members took place Thursday evening. Today, from 4 to 6 p.m., the general public can attend an open house.

The $16 million REC Center is located on Pierce Avenue, right next to Marinette High School.

Self-guided tours of the center will be available Saturday and Sunday, while the official opening day is Monday.

Also, this weekend, the M&M Thunder hockey program will host a U18 Midget tournament. Admission is free, but spectators are encouraged to help out the program through concessions, bucket raffles and 50/50 raffles.

The local squad plays at 6 tonight, at noon and 7 p.m. Saturday and at 8 a.m. and possibly again in the afternoon Sunday.

There is a full slate of action beginning tonight through late Sunday afternoon. There also will be a Marinette Men’s League game at 5 p.m. Saturday.

For fans used to watching hockey in cold surroundings, like the Civic Center, not to worry. Thunder officials say the temperature in the REC Center will be a consistent 50 degrees, making for a comfortable fan-friendly environment.

They also say the rink is 100 percent handicap accessible, including ramps and handrails, which provide easy access to bleachers made out of a composite material, so they aren’t too cold to sit on.

Mayor Steve Genisot will drop the ceremonial first puck prior to the 6 p.m. game tonight. It’s fitting as he and many others — namely the donors — deserve heaps of praise for seeing this project to fruition.

The facility will offer much more than hockey. It will support large events, such as concerts and trade shows, as well as other sports activities, including soccer, baseball, softball, basketball, tennis, curling and indoor track events.

It’s been a long time coming, but the Community REC Center is just about ready for the public.

Sure, there have been setbacks, but as Genisot told the EagleHerald last week, “Sometimes you have to evaluate what’s the best way to get it done, versus the quickest way. Taking the time to do it right is way more important.”

We agree and we hope citizens check it out this weekend.