Rink glides toward opening
Maybe the next Wayne Gretzky will be discovered later this month in Park City. Or perhaps another Sarah Hughes will lace on her skates in the city in a few weeks.
City Hall is preparing to open the new Quinn’s Junction ice arena, a voter-backed facility and one of the government’s most ambitious building projects. And, with Americans preparing to tune into the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, the opening of the ice rink is timed to capitalize on the buzz that the Games generate for sports like hockey and figure skating every four years.
"It’s a fantastic facility, just nicely done," said Stacey Noonan, the general manager of the Quinn’s Junction recreation complex, where the ice rink is located, describing it as a "beautiful, brand-new ice arena."
The opening is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 24 and the city plans to celebrate over that weekend with complimentary skating sessions.
The 46,000-square-foot arena features an Olympic-sized ice surface, measuring 100 feet by 200 feet, larger than a regulation NHL rink. Noonan said this week that crews at the ice rink are "95 percent done" and are now are completing finishing work, like hanging lights and installing a sound system.
Crews plan to start making ice on Feb. 10, Noonan said.
"People have been waiting years for an ice arena here," she said.
David Harris, a member of the Friends of Ice group that has been assisting the city, said the arena puts Park City with other ski towns that already have facilities.
"Every one of the major ski resorts of the West, Aspen, Vail, all of them have Olympic-sized ice," Harris, a speedskater, said.
He anticipates that the ice rink will be a draw for Parkites and visitors.
"I think you’re going to get great support," he said, adding that the ice rink will complement the rest of Park City’s winter-sports offerings.
He said there are not lots of nighttime sports activities in the area.
"What do you do at night? There’s no bowling," he said.
Noonan said people awaiting the opening have told her that there are lots of sports that interest them, like hockey and ice skating.
"Park City is a melting pot. I think there’s a lot of people who grew up skating," she said.
The government hired two full-time employees for the ice rink and about 20 people mostly working part time will staff the facility, Noonan said.
Noonan said the ice rink will welcome a diverse group of sports. She said an adult hockey league launches the week of Feb. 27 and she hopes four teams participate. She hopes that an eight-team Sunday broomball league is successful.
Next winter, Noonan wants curling and short-track speed skating leagues to form.
The 2006 season is scheduled to run through May 27. The rink will close for the summer with plans to reopen in September for the 2006-2007 season, which will end in May, Noonan said.
Noonan said the rink’s scheduling includes 14 public-skate times per week during the first season. They last from 1 hour 15 minutes to four hours, she said. A schedule for the rink also shows times set aside for people to learn to play hockey, for sled hockey practice and for what is called the ‘adult coffee club,’ described as a social skate session with instructions.
The schedule shows activity starting as early as 6:30 a.m. and ending as late as 10:45 p.m.
The rink cost $4.8 million, mostly funded by $4 million in bonds approved by voters in Park City and the Snyderville Basin. City Hall covered the $800,000 shortfall from its budget and drafted the Park City Foundation, led by ex-Mayor Brad Olch, to raise at least $800,000 through the sale of the facility’s naming rights.
Construction started last April.
People who live in Summit and Wasatch counties receive a price break on admission fees, paying $4.50 for youths and seniors for public skates and $5 for adults, a $2 reduction from the price charged to others. The city offers a range of options, including season passes and what are known as ‘punch-card’ passes, which are good for 10 sessions.
The complimentary ice skating on Feb. 25-26 requires registration. Five 2 1/2 hour sessions, starting at 8 a.m. and ending at 10:30 p.m., are scheduled on Feb. 25. On Feb. 26, four sessions are scheduled.
The sessions are limited to 350 people and this week there was lots of space available for each of the sessions. To sign up for one of the sessions, visit the rink’s World Wide Web site, http://www.pcice.org . More information about fees and programs is also available on the Web site.
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