Howelsen Ice Complex reopens thanks to partnership with youth hockey association
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Howelsen Ice Complex was scheduled to open Sept. 14, but thanks to a partnership with the Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association, the rink will reopen to private and organizational rentals Monday, Aug. 10.
Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation has been operating on a severely reduced budget and opening the ice complex wasn’t a top priority. The association wanted to help get its athletes as well as others on the ice sooner, so offered financial help by renting many of the time slots and providing volunteers to help reduce labor costs.
A small crew of parks and recreation employees and volunteers have been working inside the rink to lay the ice and paint the lines for the past few days.
The process of laying the ice takes seven to 10 days and uses about 20,000 gallons of water to build 1 1/2 inches of ice on the Olympic-sized rink. That’s enough to fill 150,000 16-ounce bottles.
The process is tedious since water is applied in thin layers. When a layer is frozen, the next is applied. Lines are painted before applying the final layers.
There will be no public skates, rentals or bumper cars, according to Recreation Manager Alexis Wolf. She said bumper cars could be added as the fall and winter season approaches.
“The timing of it, it doesn’t make sense to add it right now, just because of the demand,” Wolf said. “We would be looking at potentially restarting bumper cars more toward the winter season around Thanksgiving.”
Wolf said they’re also considering adding stick and puck times on the schedule, allowing people to preregister for the slots.
“Everything will continue to be reevaluated as circumstances change,” she said.
Without a slick slab to skate on, the hockey association has been holding outdoor hockey clinics.
The Howelsen Ice Complex closed in mid-March when nearly the entire state shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ice complex was named a potential overflow facility for the Routt County Emergency Operations Center. For the past few weeks, the iceless building has been used to host High Altitude Basketball camps.
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