Adding a covered, multipurpose outdoor rink to Howelsen Ice Arena was a project with many ups and downs, going from a near certainty in early 2018 to an afterthought. However, after discussion at the Steamboat Springs City Council meeting on Tuesday, September 6, the new addition is back on the table.
Dressed in their hockey jerseys, several local kids from the Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association sat in front of the city council to support another sheet of ice, as limited ice time allowed for a number of late-night hockey games. evening.
“They’re on the ice at 10 p.m.,” said Kerry Shea, chair of the Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association board of directors. “With our adult leagues, they have fun until midnight.”
Shea said the extra ice space could double the potential size of youth hockey tournaments and make Steamboat eligible to host state tournaments.
City council members said they supported the addition of a covered outdoor ice facility and expressed interest in drafting a memorandum of understanding that would formally express a shared desire to build a second layer of ice.
Although no money was officially committed on Tuesday, the city council unanimously agreed to begin discussions with the Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association about raising funds for the second ice rink.
The Parks and Recreation Department asked for the second layer of ice to be dealt with as a priority because it has already gone through the approval process once before, but council members said they would need time to weigh the price of the new facility with other city projects before making a financial commitment.
Council members expressed a desire to know how much the new project would cost, saying there was a good chance that the cost of materials and labor would be even higher now than it was. in 2018, but Shea said the new design is simpler than the canceled one. before.
Angela Cosby, the city’s director of parks and recreation, said staff expect much of the cost to be offset by the additional revenue the second sheet of ice will bring. Cosby also said that because the indoor rink is so close to the existing rink in Howelsen, there would be considerable overlap in resources between the two facilities, such as being able to use the same zamboni.
The indoor facility would be approximately 35,000 square feet with a construction footprint of approximately 140 feet by 250 feet. The sheet of ice would be 85 feet by 200 feet, NHL regulation size, while the rink inside the Howelsen Ice Arena is a bit larger and Olympic-sized.
Since 2018, the city has invested in the infrastructure needed to add another layer of ice, such as moving the sewer line to the new location, moving power lines, installing a sidewalk of the ice rink at the intersection of Fifth Street and Howelsen Parkway, the paving of the rodeo ground parking lot and the expansion of the Howelsen Ice Arena facilities on the second floor.
The new facility would include four additional locker rooms, a dryland training area, a storage area and bleachers. Air cover and ice refrigeration would maximize its year-round usability and include summer programming such as live music.
If all goes without a hitch, construction could begin as early as 2023 with an opening date of 2024.
In 2018, the first phase of construction of the second layer of ice was approved and everything seemed to fall into place. A donor provided $1 million for the project, and the city allocated $700,000 from the lodging tax for the construction of the ice cap. The city was so committed that it paid a non-refundable steel deposit for the project of approximately $67,000.
But cost estimates for the second layer of ice quickly rose from about $2.5 million to nearly $4.5 million just before city council met to discuss the project.
Not wanting to build half of the project and wait for funding to complete the rest, the city council let the idea fizzle out.
The “bad timing” was blamed on the project being put on hold, City Manager Gary Suiter said in 2018. And that bad luck would continue to hold the project back.
The million-dollar donation agreement between the city and Michael and Sara Craig-Scheckman expired shortly thereafter.
Then the 2020 pandemic closed the Howelsen rink from March to August, and the ice was removed to make way for an emergency overflow for the hospital. The city has also aggressively cut budgets during the uncertainty of the pandemic.
But when lockdown restrictions ended and pandemic-era anxieties subsided, demand for time at the Howelsen Ice Arena skyrocketed.
Curling was also added to the arena’s lineup, which was a hit among locals but made ice time in Howelsen scarcer than ever.
“When the rink reopened, they felt the same effect as recreation at all levels,” Cosby said. “Huge rise.”
To reach Spencer Powell, call 970-871-4229 or email him at [email protected]