Hockey stop: Park City could one day host NHL preseason camp
Park City officials and a National Hockey League team have spoken on and off for several years about locating the team’s preseason camp at the Park City Ice Arena, but an agreement was never reached, the facility’s general manager indicated in a recent report.
The NHL team’s interest in the arena has not been widely publicized, but it illustrates Park City’s longtime desire to be among the nation’s top winter-sports locales. Park City leaders and winter-sports executives see the community as a prime spot, noting the top-tier facilities and the proximity to an international airport.
Jon Pistey, the general manager of the Ice Arena, noted the interest by the NHL team in a report submitted to Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council in anticipation of a broad discussion about the future of ice facilities in the area. The report did not provide details about the NHL team.
The interest was mentioned in a section of the report centered on a shortage of available ice time for the various leagues, programs and clubs. The report indicated the facility could not schedule 94 requests involving 417 hours between mid-2013 and mid-2014.
"This does not include an NHL team’s desire to hold their pre-season training camp in Park City," the report said.
In an interview, Pistey declined to identify the team. He said, though, the team is not the Anaheim Ducks. The Utah Grizzlies are affiliated with the Southern California team.
Pistey said the discussions have occurred as recently as eight months ago. He said there is a possibility of renewing the discussions later.
NHL training camps occur in September and typically last a few weeks. Pistey indicated a team normally brings upward of 80 people to a training camp, a mix of players, coaches and staffers.
Pistey said the team would require a minimum of approximately four hours of ice time each day of training camp. The ice time needed by the team would pose problems for the Ice Arena if it remains as busy as it has been in recent years or becomes busier. Park City leaders and the Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District have indicated the Ice Arena could someday be expanded. Park City’s elected officials held an early round of discussions last week about the prospects of an expansion. They said they wanted any expansion to involve a partnership between City Hall and the Recreation District.
The NHL team that was in talks about the Ice Arena was also interested in using the Park City Municipal Athletic & Recreation Center and the United States Ski and Snowboard Association’s Center of Excellence training facility, Pistey said. Many details were not finalized by the time the sides ended the most recent round of discussions, he said.
Pistey said it was likely City Hall would need to offer the team an incentive package to locate the preseason training at the Ice Arena. Perhaps, he said, the Park City Chamber/Bureau and state agencies could assist with an incentive package. Pistey said officials would negotiate toward an agreement that would strongly encourage a team to play at least one preseason game at the Ice Arena.
Four NHL players will train individually at the Ice Arena this summer, the fifth consecutive summer the Ice Arena will host NHL players training on their own, Pistey said.
Pistey, meanwhile, said Park City offers the team a high-altitude setting for training and said the community offers amenities like high-end hotels and restaurants. It also provides off-the-ice activities, he said. Park City would garner publicity if it hosted a preseason camp.
"It helps out Park City. It helps out the Ice Arena," he said.
Two people indicated in interviews they are considering mounting campaigns for the Park City Council, a signal the City Hall election could attract an intriguing slate of candidates in a year when the majority of the five seats are on the ballot.