Arena improvement moves ahead |

Arena improvement moves ahead

John F. Russell

— The first cement truck arrived at the Howelsen Hill Ice Arena at 5:15 a.m. Wednesday to begin laying the foundation for a year-round ice rink in Steamboat Springs.

The truck was the first in a convoy of 30 that brought the substance to Howelsen. The concrete was then pumped through a special boom that reached under the roof so that workers could form the floor upon which Steamboat’s newest sheet of ice will be frozen when the rink reopens sometime in October.

“We had a pool on just how much concrete it would take,” said project manager Rick Gliniecki of Fox Construction.

No winner had been announced late Wednesday afternoon. But the official count, said Stacey Foster, ice rink manager, was 318.5 cubic yards of concrete. The continuous pour operation lasted six hours and is the latest step in the rink’s most recent upgrade.

“There was always a backup truck waiting,” Foster said. “Once they started pouring the floor, they couldn’t stop. So if something went wrong with the main truck we had to have a backup.”

The process resulted in a steady stream of trucks flowing into the arena parking lot for most of the morning. Once one truck was empty, another slipped into position to keep the project moving as planned.

Phase 3 of the Howelsen Ice Arena improvement project officially began three weeks ago when crews started installing pipes for the new refrigeration floor. Those refrigeration pipes were encased beneath a fresh layer of concrete by 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. The permanent 150-ton refrigeration system, including the refrigeration plant, should be in place by mid-September. The new system will allow the rink to maintain a year-round schedule for the first time in its history.

“It hasn’t been cost-effective for us to be open in the summer with our old system,” Foster said. “But this new system will cut our utilities by 40 percent, which will allow use to stay open year-round.”

The new system will be powered by two 75-ton compressors that will cycle during the normal operation of the rink. Those compressors will arrive in September.

Foster said the new system will be a noticeable improvement over the rink’s former ice mat system, which would have cost too much money to run in the summer even with a 120-ton compressor.

“This system is much more efficient,” Foster said. “It will cost less to run in both the winter and the summer.”

The old system, which was purchased 10 years ago, lasted as long as was expected. However, Foster said the system had started to fail in recent years and the rink had to close last year because of a leak.

Foster said the new system is expected to last 20 to 25 years and will be able to support another sheet of ice if it becomes necessary to increase the size of the rink in the future.

It cost an extra $30,000 to build the system that could support two sheets, but Foster said it will guarantee the facility will be able to grow to meet demands in the future.

The improvements are all part of the $1.6 million step one of phase three, Foster said.

The project included a back bump out, refrigeration system, compressors, bleachers, dasher boards and a new ceiling that will allow the rink to operate more efficiently in the summer months.

Between steps one and two, the rink will add locker rooms that will be placed underneath the bleachers.

Foster expects to break ground on step two next April. That project will include a front bump out complete with an office, lobby, concessions, game room and second-story viewing area. That process should be completed by the end of next summer, Foster said.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.