Park City Ice Arena talks expected to heat up soon |

Park City Ice Arena talks expected to heat up soon

Discussions about the Park City Ice Arena are expected to heat up in coming months.

Park City is considering a major expansion of the Quinn’s Junction facility, saying the Ice Arena has become hugely popular. That has led to shortages in ice availability for the various teams, clubs and individuals competing for time slots.

City Hall this month sought proposals from firms interested in crafting conceptual designs of an expansion, an important step as officials prepare to move forward with a project. The window for proposals closed Friday afternoon. City Hall had not received a proposal by Friday morning.

The posting seeking proposals outlined City Hall’s interest in three expansion options. The least ambitious would involve an outdoor rink that would be designed for the community. Another one calls for an indoor rink designed for the community as well as serving as a regional rink.

The other option, the most ambitious, contemplates a facility that could be used as a venue during a Winter Olympics. Park City played a major role in the 2002 Winter Olympics, held four years prior to the 2006 opening of the Ice Arena. The city would likely be a significant player if a bid is mounted for a future Winter Olympics, perhaps an attempt to win the Games in 2026.

City Hall wants a firm to estimate the financials involved in each option, including a construction price tag as well as the annual operations and maintenance costs. The municipal government also requests two designs for each of the three options. The posting wants firms to craft designs for two locations. One location is at the Ice Arena itself, essentially an expansion of the current building. The other location is a parcel of City Hall-owned land adjacent to the Ice Arena and outside the headquarters of the U.S. Ski Team. The interested firms are asked to provide details about a facility, such as the number of permanent seats and the number of temporary seats if an Olympic event is held.

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The posting also asks for funding options, including the possibility of public and private-sector assistance.

City Hall could award the contract in June with a deadline for the work in August. Hiring a firm to create conceptual designs would be an early step in what is expected to be a lengthy process as details are considered if officials move forward with a project. City Hall would eventually need to finalize the designs, secure the necessary development permit and hire a construction firm.

The talks about an expansion started in earnest nearly a year ago. The Park City Council last July held an important discussion that allowed staffers to move forward. At that time, officials argued that the popularity of the Ice Arena warranted an expansion, saying schedulers were not able to accommodate more than 400 hours of requested ice-time rentals between the middle of 2013 and the middle of 2014. Another approximately 600 hours were not available then for programs for young hockey players and young figure skaters.

The City Council meeting last July drew a crowd of youngsters and their parents in support of an expansion. Some of them brought signs with messages like "Give PC Skaters A Chance!"

The posting seeking proposals indicates the Ice Arena operates at 94 percent of capacity between 6 a.m. and midnight. The facility houses the range of ice-rink sports, such as hockey, sled hockey, figure skating, speed skating and curling, according to the posting. The Ice Arena houses 64 teams competing in adult hockey leagues annually the posting says as an example.

Jason Glidden, the economic development program manager at City Hall, said the proposals will enable staffers to provide Mayor Jack Thomas and the City Council "more concrete information" about an expansion of the Ice Arena. A presentation to the elected officials is anticipated later in the year. A timeline beyond the presentation is not clear.